Peter St Jean, Navigator
18th SOS, Da Nang and Nakhon Phanom, 1971-72
Peter St Jean was born on September 16, 1932 in New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York. Peter enlisted in the USAF after graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School on May 14, 1952. He could not afford to go on to college and was classified 1A, so the USAF opportunity looked great!
Basic Training was at Sampson AFB, New York. He was accepted for Aviation Cadet Pilot Training with an interim assignment as Airman 3rd Class at Reese AFB, Texas, thence to Lackland AFB, Texas. From Lackland, Peter was sent to Malden AFB, Missouri for Primary Pilot Training and then to Greenville AFB, Mississippi for Basic Pilot Training. At Greenville, Peter “washed-out” of pilot training and was sent to Ellington AFB, Texas for Navigator Training. He earned his Navigator Wings and Second Lieutenant Bars there in December 1954.
Peter’s first operational assignment was in the RC- 121 Lockheed Super Constellation in the Air Defense Command, DC 551st AEW&C at Otis AFB, Massachusetts. In 1958, he was sent off to SAC for training and a B-47 assignment to Chenault AFB, Louisiana, then to B-52s at Carswell AFB, Texas. Peter earned a “spot promotion” and was an Instructor Navigator/Bombardier in B-47s and a Radar Navigator in B-52s. He was promoted to Major in 1968 and earned Master Navigator Wings in 1969. While flying B-52s, Peter served several 179-day TDYs to Anderson AFB, Guam to participate in ARC LIGHT missions in Southeast Asia before becoming the 7th Bomb Wing Air Weapons Officer at Carswell AFB.
In 1970, he was sent off to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio for AC- 119K gunship training as a FLIR sensor operator, thence to Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam. From 1971 to 1972, Peter served on the 18th Special Operations Squadron Stinger flight crews as an Instructor FLIR and NOS (a few times as Table Navigator) at Da Nang and Nakhon Phanom (NKP) Air Base, Thailand. He was awarded the Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for combat service in Southeast Asia. His DFC was awarded as a result of heroic actions taken when his Stinger gunship was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and subsequent actions taken to help make a safe emergency landing at Da Nang on 14 May 1971.
Major Peter St Jean returned to Carswell AFB from Vietnam in February 1972 and retired 31 May 1972, having flown approximately 6,000 hours during his twenty continuous years of service in the United States Air Force.
While still on active duty, Peter earned all FAA Pilot/ Instructor Ratings and opened a Flying School in Fort Worth, Texas that continued operations after his retirement. Peter moved to Ohio and stayed in aviation, where he is currently a Corporate Pilot/CFII-A. He has logged approximately 18,000 flying hours as a pilot and still attends reunions with his Pilot Training Class 54-G classmates of which few have logged as many “pilot” flying hours as Peter St Jean, the “NAV”.