Kossuth County

Cmdr. Mel H. Peterson



In the meantime a number of draftees, released by the law deferring men over 28, were awaiting a call to return to service. The deferment law became inoperative immediately on the declaration of war as made yesterday noon by Congress. This provision was contained in the law itself.

Relatives of people in the Pacific territory were unable to get any information other than from the radio. Among those affected are the C. B. Murtaghs and Mrs. A. L. Peterson. The latter’s son, Mel H. Peterson, was recently promoted to lieutenant-commander in the Navy and is stationed at Honolulu, where his wife, the former Ann Murtagh, maintains their home only two blocks form an area reported heavily bombed.

Source: Kossuth County Advance, December 9, 1941

Destroyer Under Command of Algonian Is Sunk During Hot Action Off Leyte Island

Announcement by the Navy Department of the loss of the 2200-ton destroyer Cooper, commanded by Cmdr. Mel H. Peterson, Algona, was made yesterday, according to news dispatch in this morning’s Des Moines Register.

No details were made public, but it was stated the loss occurred during “night action against the enemy” in the Philippines, December 4.

Commander Peterson stopped here before Christmas enroute to a new assignment.

Because of the necessity of keeping loss and other details from the enemy, the story will have to await the close of the war. However, about December 4, 1944, the U.S. fleet sent units around Leyte island to make a new landing and nip off a Jap reinforcement corridor, and it is believed in this strenuous action the Cooper was lost.

Source: Kossuth County Advance, December 28, 1944

Gold Star For Mell Peterson

Commander Mel Peterson, Algona young man in command of the destroyer Cooper at the Battle of Leyte, in the Philippines, last spring, yesterday was presented with a Gold Star in ceremonies at Washington D.C. This was awarded him for heroism in a fierce sea battle in which his ship was sunk by a torpedo, going down in three minutes, after sinking two of the enemy war ships. Most of the crew of the Cooper were lost and Mel and a number of others were rescued from life rafts after many hours clinging to the rafts. Mel, who is a son of Mrs. A. L. Peterson of Algona and a son-in-law of C. B. Murtaghs is now stationed in Washington in the Navy department.

Source: Algona Upper DesMoines, August 23, 1945 (photo included)