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First Name: Gerard

Last Name: Petersen

Birthplace: Perley, MN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Norman County, MN
Middle Name: Burton

Date of Birth: 01 May 1917

Date of Death: 08 August 1944

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served: 1942 - 1944
Gerard Burton Petersen

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Gerard Burton Petersen
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army

Gerard Burton Petersen was inducted into the U.S. Army on 30 April 1942.

On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Staff Sergeant Gerard Burton Petersen was serving with the 743rd Tank Battalion, attached to the 1st Infantry Division, First U.S. Army.

On that day, SSG Petersen’s unit was in action against German forces. Selected to be one of the three tank assault battalions that would land with the first wave at Normandy, France, on D-Day, the tanks of the 743rd were supporting the 116th Infantry Combat Team of the 29th Infantry Division's assault of Omaha Beach. Arriving ahead of the infantry assault forces, the 743rd endured losses from enemy fire, artillery, mines, and even the rough surf. The tanks finally moved off Omaha Beach to the vicinity of Vierville-sur-Mer at about 2230 hours. SSG Petersen’s courageous actions and extraordinary heroism that day earned him the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross. [As a testimony to their heroism on Omaha Beach, 9 of the 743rd Tank Battalion’s 13 Distinguished Service Crosses awarded during World War II were for actions on 6 June 1944.]

On 8 August 1944, SSG Petersen’s unit was in action against German forces near Mortain, France, when he was killed in action.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Arrowhead Pin and 2 Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Croix de Guerre with Palm (France) 2 Awards
Presidential Unit Citation

Distinguished Service Cross Citation (Synopsis)

Staff Sergeant Gerard B. Petersen, United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 743d Tank Battalion, attached to the 1st Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 6 June 1944, at Normandy, France. Staff Sergeant Petersen's intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

Headquarters, First U.S. Army, General Orders No. 37 (1944)


Staff Sergeant Gerard Burton Petersen is buried at the Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in Saint-James, Departement de la Manche, Basse-Normandie, France in Plot I, Row 17, Grave 3.


Honoree ID: 52604   Created by: MHOH




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