Saturday, October 22 , 2016, 11:55 am | Mostly Cloudy 63º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
Your Health

Santa Barbara YMCA Member Art Petersen Recounts Army Service During WWII

Art Petersen is one of four local veterans of the D-Day invasion of Normandy who were honored recently by the Channel City Club and the Pierre Claeyssens Foundation.

Art Petersen
Art Petersen enlisted in the U.S. Army In 1942. ( photo)

As it happens, Petersen is a member of the Santa Barbara Family YMCA. His story can be found online by clicking here.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Petersen and listen as this active 99-year-old gentleman filled me in on some of the details.

When asked how someone named Petersen happened to be born in Mexico City, he explained that his paternal grandfather was a German consul there. Petersen's family moved to Los Angeles during his childhood.

Before his graduation from Manual Arts High School, all the male students were told that they were required to register for the draft when they turned eighteen. At graduation in 1942, he tried to enlist in the Marines, and then the Navy, but was declined by both services because he was not a U.S. citizen. Then he was drafted into the Army. 

At the completion of basic training, he learned that paratroopers were paid an additional $50 each month.

“That was a lot of money back then,” he says, so he signed up.

Additional training took place at Camp Taccoa and Fort Benning, Ga. In September 1943, he was in England preparing for a secret operation the following spring. The June 6, 1944, invasion is a story all its own and can be found at the above website.

Not long after the D-Day invasion, Petersen was wounded in the liberation of the Netherlands.

“The 101st Airborne lost more people in the Netherlands than we did at Normandy,” he says.

His wound occurred before his jump and he was ordered to remain on the plane. He jumped anyway when the plane was hit and was going down. After recovery in England he was wounded a second time at the Battle of the Bulge. 

“So when did you become a U.S. citizen?” I asked. “About two weeks before D-Day," he said. "There were five or six of us and we were taken to the U. S. Consul’s office in London and raised our right hands.” “Did you have to take any classes or answer questions about the Constitution?” “Are you kidding?” Petersen replied. “We were in the U.S. Army and that was enough.”

Art and Gloria were married in 1947 and settled in Santa Barbara. His disability payments were $27.60 a month, and here they lived in former POW housing on the site of the present Gelson’s Grocery Store for a rent of $17 a month. He began his own business, an industrial cleaning service, which he sold in 1990 and began his long retirement. He volunteered with the Boy Scouts where both of his sons became Eagle Scouts.

When I asked Petersen what he does for fun, he replied that for 20 years he volunteered twice a week at the Veterans’ Clinic. He retired from that when he turned 90 in March. He continues to participate in several veterans organizations: VFW, DAV, American Legion, the Order of the Purple Heart and the Korean Veterans Association, although he is quick to point out that he did not serve in Korea. He is very pleased that in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of D-Day the government of France is now awarding the Legion of Honor to all American veterans of the D-Day invasion.

Art and Gloria Petersen participate in Silver Sneakers at the Santa Barbara Y every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

For information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, click here or stop by your local branch.

» Camarillo Family YMCA, 3111 Village at the Park Drive, 805.484.0423
» Lompoc Family YMCA, 201 W. College Ave., 805.736.3483
» Montecito Family YMCA, 591 Santa Rosa Lane, 805.969.3288
» Santa Barbara Family YMCA, 36 Hitchcock Way, 805.687.7727
» Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA, 900 N. Refugio Road in Santa Ynez, 805.686.2037
» Ventura Family YMCA, 3760 Telegraph Road, 805.642.2131

— Thomas Schmid is the Active Older Adult Program specialist for the Santa Barbara Family YMCA.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series