Soon after graduating from Lafayette College, David McKelvey Peterson went to France to drive ambulances. On 9 October 1916 he joined the French air service and after completing pilot training he joined the Lafayette Escadrille on 16 June 1917. He transferred to the United States air service on 18 February 1918 and was assigned to the 94th Aero Squadron on 1 April. On 25 May 1918 he assumed command of the 95th Aero Squadron. Having bagged six enemy aircraft, Peterson was transferred to Dorr Field at Daytona Beach, Florida on 8 October 1918. Here he served as an instructor until he was killed in a flying accident in March 1919. He fell with his plane from a height of 100 feet.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Monday, 17 March 1919, page 1
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to David McKelvey Peterson, Captain (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Thiaucourt, France, on May 15, 1918. While on a patrol alone Captain Peterson encountered two enemy planes at an altitude of 52 meters. He promptly attacked, despite the odds, and shot down one of the enemy planes in flames. While thus engaged he was attacked from above by the second enemy plane, but by skillful maneuvering he succeeded in shooting it down also.
General Orders No. 121, W.D., 1918
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) Oak Leaf Cluster
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to David McKelvey Peterson, Captain (Air Service), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Luneville, France, on May 3, 1918. Leading a patrol of three, Captain Peterson encountered five enemy planes at an altitude of 3,500 meters and immediately gave battle. Notwithstanding the fact that he was attacked from all sides, this officer, by skillful maneuvering, succeeded in shooting down one of the enemy's planes and dispersing the remaining four.