Iowa History Daily: August 8 - Kermit C. Peterson

Iowa History Daily: On August 8, 1968, Private First-Class Kermit C. Peterson Jr. of Des Moines sustained a fatal injury while serving as an artilleryman in the Vietnam War. One of at least 869 Iowans to die in the conflict, PFC Peterson finds remembrance on Panel 48w, Line 14 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

Born in Des Moines on February 15, 1948, Peterson grew up in Iowa’s capital city and attended Dowling High School. Drafted into the Army shortly after registering for the Selective Service, he completed training before arriving in Vietnam the day before his 20th birthday on February 14, 1968.

Attached to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, 5th Battalion, 12th Infantry, Company E, Private First-Class Peterson spent six months in Vietnam working as an Infantry Indirect Fire Crewman. On August 8, Peterson received severe burns when a mortar charge ignited prematurely. Members of Company E scrambled to help the severely burned PFC Peterson.

Sent to a military hospital in Japan for treatment, Peterson died a week later on August 14, 1968. Awarded the Purple Heart, the 20-year-old’s body arrived back in Iowa later in the year for burial with full-military honors at Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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