Dakota Kid II

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Noble Peterson was born in 1915.  During the thirties Noble and a friend went out to Oregon to look for work.  Noble’s friend got the idea of joining the army and talked Noble into it.  After they took their physical however, Noble passed and now was in the army, his friend failed!  Noble joined the army on Nov. 6, 1936 and was put on a ship out of San Francisco and sent to Hawaii for basic training and served in the 19th infantry.  Noble served in Hawaii for two and a half years until a shoulder injury caused him to be discharged on June 20, 1939.
  When the US entered the war after the Pearl Harbor attack, Noble knew he would be called up for duty so he reenlisted back in the army on March 20, 1942 at the same rank he was in prior service, a corporal.  He ended up in a tank unit (11th Armor Battalion) at Ft. Knox KT  training new recruits.  After a time, Noble’s commander put him in for Officers Training School.  Not long after, however, Noble was on a weekend pass and due to no fault of his own the bus he came back on was late.  The Battalion Commander really came down hard on Noble and really bawled him out.  Noble didn’t figure he deserved the dressing down he got so when he saw the notice about taking a test in Louisville to be a Air Corp Cadet he decided to try for it.  Noble asked his Company Commander for a three day pass and when asked why, he was honest and told him, “to take the Air Corp test.”  The Captain said “No way.”  Noble decided to go anyway and used an old pass he had and this got him through the gate.  Noble took the bus to Louisville and took the test with about 50 others.  After they finished, the papers were taken to be corrected.  After about an hour an a half an officer came in and started calling names, Nobles wasn’t among them so he thought he hadn’t passed but then the officer excused the ones he just called and Noble knew he had made it.  Another officer came in and said you are now under the command of the Army Air Corp.  Go back to your units and wait to be called.  This was on a Friday.
Noble returned to the 11th  Armor Battalion and by Monday morning the paperwork had reached the Commanders desk.  The Major was so angry he bellered, “SEND PETERSON UP HERE”.  Noble went to see the Major and the Major said “What the hell are you doing?!  Here I have given you a commission on a silver platter and you do this?!”  The Major asked Noble why?  Noble said, “To better myself sir.”  With this the Major really blew his top and sent Noble out.  Before the day was over Noble was busted down to private and sent to the 12th  Battalion.
After a couple weeks Nobles orders came through and he was sent to Nashville Tenn. for Cadet training.  This was the start of Nobles service in the Army Air Corp.
Noble Peterson flew two tours of duty – the first in the “Dakota Kid”, a P-51C.  While at home on leave after his first tour, this plane was shot down in Poland while flown by another pilot during a “shuttle bombing” escort mission.For his second tour Noble flew a brand new P-51D, this plane was named “Dakota Kid II”.  The “Long Island Kid” below the exhaust refers to Noble’s crew chief, Sergeant Robert Coleman, who hailed from New York.  Noble belonged to the 355th Fighter Group, 358th Squadron based at Steeple Morden in Cambridgeshire, England.DAKOTA_KID_II

On 20 July 1944 Captain Noble Peterson, flying Dakota kid, was escorting B-17’s returning from a mission over Leipzig, Germany when around 20 ME-109’s (Messerschmitts) attacked the bomber formation from the rear.  Noble was leading the squadron in that quarter and turned the 358th into the enemy planes.  Captain Perterson hit a 109 and it started going down with its engine on fire.  The German formation had been broken up and were scattered.  Noble climbed, going after another 109 that was darting in and out of cloud cover, when his wing man informed him that the first 109 had straightened out.  Noble then dove again and as he came up on the smoking Messerschmitt, the pilot bailed out.  Noble came around again and flew by the German that was now safely in his chute.  Noble gave him a friendly wave and the German pilot waved back!

Noble flew 106 missions with 500 hours combat flying time.

Noble passed away on March 10, 2009

SOURCES:  Personal interview with Noble Peterson, 355th Fighter Group records.

See also the Lemmon paper news article

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