Frank E. Petersen Jr., the first black aviator and brigadier general in Marine Corps, has died.

Frank E. Petersen III says his father died Tuesday at his home in Stevensville, Maryland, of complications from lung cancer. He was 83.

According to a news release on the Marine Corps website, Petersen was commissioned in the corps in 1952. The Marines say Petersen served in the Korean War in 1953 and Vietnam in 1968.

During his career, Petersen flew more than 350 combat missions and more than 4,000 hours.

Petersen was promoted to brigadier general in 1979. He retired in 1988.

As tough as he had to be as a Marine, his son said, "He was as peaceful and gentle as you could ask a dad to be."