Tribute: Wayne Boyd Petersen

Lt. Col. Wayne B. Petersen

I met ‘Petey’ in 1974 when we were both assigned to the 56 ARRS (Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron) at Korea RTAFB, Thailand. We became friends right away.

Pete had come to the squadron from Hawaii where he was a Flight Examiner in the HC-130 H/P/N aircraft. I had just begun my IP (instructor pilot) upgrade and flew many rides with him before being certified. He taught me a great deal about the performance and handling of the HC-130.

One afternoon, on one of my upgrade rides, he flew toward the runway at 2,000 feet AGL (above ground level) and asked me to tell him when to begin the descent to land within the first 1,000 feet. Ok, so I sat there and watched the normal point where I would have begun the descent. I gave it a bit longer then said, “Ok, this looks good.” And he continued on, without word.

A short time later I said, “Now?” And, he continued on, again without word.

Finally as the runway threshold disappeared under the nose he pulled the throttles to Idle and pushed the nose over to where all I saw was ‘dirt!’ All I could think about was, “I hope he knows what he is doing!” It was a thrill, to say the least.

Those 4 huge props actually acted as speed brakes which kept us from accelerating. Then Petey added power and broke the descent – and we landed well within the first 1,000 feet! Impressive, for sure.

For the remaining part of my tour Pete and I became good friends.


As I got nearer to my DEROS (date expected to rotate stateside) Pete asked if I would consider extending for 6 months. The squadron was becoming short of experienced pilots. Pete also said that h wanted to upgrade me to Flight Examiner if I agreed to extend. I wasn’t interested, at all.

First of all, I was ready to go home. I had an assignment to T-38s at Vance and was excited about it. If I stayed and upgraded to FE, there was a good chance I would be ‘left in Rescue.’ As it turned out, it might have been a good idea to have extended. In April ‘75 Saigon fell, and the 56th was right in he middle of it all!

I later crossed paths with Pete when he came to Randolph AFB, TX in the mid-80’s. We would meet for beers every now and then, and continued our conversation we had begun years ago. I always enjoyed our conversations.

After Pete retired he moved to Florida, then on to Texas. I last talked with him in the early ‘90s.

I am saddened to learn of his passing, but will be forever grateful that I knew him. GBU, Petey…

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