Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Sgt. George Peterson

(AK-248: dp. 6,240; l. 338'9"; b. 50'; dr. 21'; s. 10.5 k.; cpl. 35; cl. Alamosa; T. C1-M-AV1)

Staff Sergeant George Peterson, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., was killed in action while serving as an acting platoon sergeant with Company K, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division near Eisern, Germany. On 30 March 1945, his company encountered intense small-arms, machine gun, and mortar fire from an enemy battalion; and his platoon was ordered to flank the enemy positions while other units attacked from the front. Soon after moving out, Sergeant Peterson was severely wounded in the legs by mortar shell shrapnel, but he refused to turn back and continued to lead the platoon forward.

Enemy machine guns then opened up on the unit. Sergeant Peterson crawled toward the guns and after working his way to a shallow draw, raised himself up and tossed a hand grenade into the nearest enemy position. He then became sole target of the second enemy machine gun; but, calmly and deliberately, he remained where he was and threw another grenade into that position. Both guns were silenced; and he continued on, becoming the target of an enemy rifleman who wounded him in the arm.

Despite his wounds, Sergeant Peterson pressed forward for another 20 yards. Then, a third enemy machine gun took him under fire. He raised himself to his knees and fired a grenade from his rifle. The gun was silenced.

After securing his objective, Sergeant Peterson submitted to medical aid. As he was being treated, however, a mortar burst seriously wounded one of his outpost men. Sergeant Peterson pulled himself from the aid man and began to crawl to the assistance of the wounded man. Just before he reached the man, Sergeant Peterson was struck and killed by an enemy bullet. For his actions, which enabled his company to advance with minimum casualties, Sergeant Peterson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Sgt. George Peterson, originally projected as Washtenaw, but built as Coastal Guide, was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 2172) on 9 March 1945 by the Leathern D. Smith Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wise.; launched on 13 May 1945; sponsored by Mrs. L. R. Sanford; and delivered to the War Shipping Administration on 16 July 1945.

Subsequently operated by the United Fruit Co. and the Polaris SS Co., Inc., Coastal Guide was transferred to the Army on 23 June 1948; renamed Sgt. George Peterson; and operated by the Army Transportation Service until transferred to the Navy in July 1950 and placed in service as USNS Sgt. George Peterson (T-AK-248).

The cargo ship then commenced eight years of operations in the Gulf of Mexico, in the Caribbean, and along the southeastern seaboard of the United States for the Military Sea Transportation Service. During that period, she interrupted her regular service only once to carry supplies north to arctic stations in the summer of 1955. Early in 1959, the AK was ordered inactivated; and, in March, she was placed out of service at New Orleans. At mid-month, she was towed to Mobile where, on the 27th, she was transferred to the Maritime Administration and berthed with the National Defense Reserve Fleet. She remained in reserve at Mobile until sold for non-transportation use in December 1971.

Published: Wed Sep 09 08:04:13 EDT 2015