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Douglas (Pete) Peterson
Pete Peterson was born in Omaha, Nebraska and raised in Nebraska and Iowa. He enlisted in the US Air Force in 1954, attaining flight pilot and instructor status soon after. During his 26-year military career, he held worldwide assignments as a Command Pilot, Instructor Pilot and Resource Manager and was stationed in Ubon, Thailand during the Vietnam War. On his 67th bombing mission over North Vietnam in September 1966, Captain Peterson was shot down by enemy fire, and he subsequently spent six and a half years as a prisoner of war.
Following his release in 1973, he returned home and resumed his military service until 1981, when he retired at the rank of full Colonel. He then became a businessman and formed his own general contracting firm in Tampa, Florida. Following a family tragedy in 1983, he moved to Marianna, Florida and took up employment as the General Manager of Odom Tank Company. In 1985, he joined the faculty of Florida State University as the Director of the Specialized Treatment Program in the Psychology Department. During this period, he pioneered and headed an innovative rehabilitation program for juvenile offenders at the Dozier School for Boys. Following an attempt by Florida state officials to close the Dozier School in 1989, he fought hard and won the battle to keep funding for the school. This fight to save Dozier School inspired Mr. Peterson to run for the US Congress. He served three terms in the House of Representatives from 1991-1997, during which he was a member of the Appropriations, National Defense, Small Business and Transportation Committees.
In 1996, he made a decision to retire from Congress at the conclusion of his third term. He was then approached by President Clinton to consider an ambassadorial appointment to Vietnam following the lifting of the US trade embargo and renewal of diplomatic relations. Upon his acceptance, he was nominated by President Clinton as the first US Ambassador to a united post-war Vietnam. He took up this historic assignment in May 1997. President Bush reappointed him in January 2001 for an indefinite term, but he decided to resign his ambassadorship in July 2001.