Peterson honored by Coast Guard Auxiliary By: Travis Gulbrandson
Yankton Press & Dakotan An area man was honored recently for 50 years of service to the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. James Peterson, who is a past commander of Division 28, Flotilla 2 in the Guard, was toasted by family, friends and other Guard members for his service at a party held at the Quarry Steak House outside of Yankton. That evening, he was presented with a number of letters, certificates and plaques in honor of his 50 years of service. Peterson thanked the crowd for everything, telling them, â�?�?Youâ�?�?re responsible for this.â�? The official date of Petersonâ�?�?s anniversary was Aug. 1. Peterson is a native of Ponca, NE, and served with the US Army Air Corps from 1943-1946. He is a graduate of The University of South Dakota Law School, and taught at USD from 1959-1991. Over the course of the evening, Peterson told several stories of his experiences in the Guard. He said he and others have had to help boaters remove their crafts after theyâ�?�?ve gotten hung up on sandbars. Peterson remembered one couple, saying, â�?�?They were only in knee-deep water in a pretty good-sized boat.â�? He and another man helped the couple rock the boat back and forth, eventually dislodging it. â�?�?They thanked us and all that. I donâ�?�?t know, about a month, we got this package in the mail, and heâ�?�?d sent us a whole big box of Omaha steaks,â�? he said. Peterson also lent his expertise on the bends of the river to Ken Burns during the filming of 1997â�?�?s Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery. â�?�?They wanted to find areas along the river that looked pretty much like it did in the Lewis & Clark days, without any telephone wires,â�? Peterson said. He continued, â�?�?The photographer who shot The Civil War for Ken Burns was the guy they sent out. I really admired him, because heâ�?�?d go anywhere to get the shot that he wanted. Heâ�?�?d scramble up a tree or wade through the water with no hesitancy.â�? One piece of footage they were particularly proud of was of areas along the banks of the water caving in. After the film was completed, Peterson and several others were invited to watch the premiere of some of the edited footage. â�?�?They showed some footage of the banks caving in, and I felt somebody poke me and I turned around and there was that photographer,â�? Peterson said. â�?�?He was so pleased that he got that.â�? Several others spoke of Petersonâ�?�?s 50 years. Commander Todd Campbell, director of the Auxiliary, was among those who spoke of Petersonâ�?�?s accomplishments. â�?�?I wanted to take the time to come out and recognize Mr. Peterson for what is really an incredible accomplishment,â�? he said. â�?�?We donâ�?�?t get this every day. Itâ�?�?s a special thing.â�? Pete Peterson, Jamesâ�?�? son, also spoke. â�?�?Iâ�?�?m glad I was able to be a part of this,â�? he said. â�?�?I do appreciate everything that youâ�?�?ve shown me over the years on the river and off, especially when we got to go from Montana to St. Louis in a boat. That was an experience of a lifetime that most people donâ�?�?t ever get to experience.â�? James Peterson made a point of thanking all the members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary toward the end of the program. â�?�?I donâ�?�?t think the average person appreciates the efforts of volunteer groups like these,â�? he said. â�?�?We get so wrapped up in our own things we forget about the other folks out there. This group is a classic example of people who enter a degree of service that far exceeds their numbers.â�?