Sergeant Vern Peterson is one of the last surviving War World II veterans in Wyoming. Last week, the 97-year-old Rock Springs resident toured a replica of the B-17 bomber plane he flew on nearly 70 years ago.

"We were lucky,” Peterson told Sweetwater Now. "When you see a B-17, you pat yourself on the back, because I got back home.”

Peterson volunteered for War World II at the age of 19 and completed 35 missions as an Army Air Force radio operator and gunner on B-17 and B-24 bombers between 1941 and 1945. He was injured when one of the planes was shot down over Germany and was forced to make a crash landing.

“There were a couple (of) missions where I didn’t think we’d make it, but we had a damn good pilot,” Peterson remembered.

After the war, he returned to Rock Springs and became a math teacher. Friday, Peterson was the guest of honor at the B-17 bomber Living Legends of Victory Tour at the Rock Springs Airport. During the event, he was invited to autograph the aircraft with the number of missions he flew, leaving a permanent reminder to mark his service.