Peter F. Fausto
U. S. A. F.
Navigator, Strategic Air Command
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Peter, a first generation Italian-American, was born in Philadelphia the fourth of six children. His father, Gaetano Fausto, a boilermaker who worked in a railroad roundhouse, came from a small town near Naples. His mother, Veranda Zappala Fausto, was from a small town near Messina, Italy. As a youngster, Peter ran a paper route and worked summers as an apprentice to his uncle, a house painter. He graduated from St. John Newman High School. He entered St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia, where he joined U.S. Air Force ROTC. Peter graduated on June 3, 1962, with a degree in accounting, and received a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. On June 30, 1962 he married Genevieve Osman, who died on July 4, 2002. (They have three children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.) On July 5, 1963 he reported to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he trained as an accounting finance officer. After working at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois as a deputy accounting finance officer for two years, he entered navigator school at James Connolly Air Force Base in Waco. After graduation, by then a first lieutenant, he completed survival training at Stead Air Force Base in Nevada. He was sent to Dover Air Force Base to fly aboard the C-133A. Many of his missions were to Vietnam and back, 1966 to 1968, mostly transporting cargo, unloading it quickly, and flying out. From 1968 to 1970 he was based at Incirlik, Turkey, about fifty miles from the Syrian border, from 1968 to 1970. There, each Monday and Thursday, he flew a C-118 on a courier route between Turkey and Germany. After service in Turkey, Peter received orders for Vietnam. He took jungle survivor school in the Philippines before arriving in Vietnam October 6, 1970, where he was based at Ton Son Nhut Airbase at Saigon in 17th Special Operations. He flew night missions aboard AC-119s at 2,500 feet, an altitude in which the aircraft was always in danger of fire from mortars and grenade launchers. "What really, really got to me was that a pagoda was a no-no," he says of where to confront the enemy. "You could not shoot a pagoda, but the bad guys would go in the pagodas and hide, so it was basically a sanctuary for them and you couldn't do a thing about it." Missions, whose purposes included interdiction and battle damage assessments, were usually four hours. He often made missions to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia and elsewhere in the country. Peter estimates he completed 700 hours of flight time in Vietnam, or about 150 missions. He left Vietnam in August of 1971, with permission to return home because of his mother's terminal illness. After his Vietnam service Peter was based at McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando in Strategic Air Command (SAC) flying in a KC-135Q. He often flew to Europe to refuel the SR-71 aircraft. "From Vietnam I went to a SAC refueling squadron," he notes. "So I went from low and slow to high and fast." Peter flew the C-135 until 1977 when he was based at Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio. Before he retired, Peter served twice at Oson Air Force Base in South Korea in the 51st Composite Wing, and at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana from 1979 to 1981. After retiring Peter earned an MBA at Centenary College. He worked for Alpha Leisure, a travel trailer company, then with the Internal Revenue Service. He worked with computers with Housing and Urban Development from 1991 until he retired December 31, 2003.