Pete Camerota was born in 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Drexel Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering, he entered Officer Training School with the U.S. Air Force on June 29, 1967, receiving his commission as a 2d Lt at Lackland AFB, Texas, on September 29, 1967. Lt Camerota attended Undergraduate Pilot Training from October 1967 to April 1968, and then transferred to Undergraduate Navigator Training, earning his navigator wings at Mather AFB, California, in December 1968. He then completed Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO) Training at Mather in July 1969, followed by B-52 Stratofortress Combat Crew Training from September to December 1969. His first assignment was as a B-52 EWO with the 2nd Bomb Squadron of the 22nd Bomb Wing at March AFB, California, from December 1969 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam on December 22, 1972. Capt Camerota managed to evade the enemy until being captured on January 3, 1973. After spending 86 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at March AFB, and then completed Undergraduate Pilot Training in March 1975. After completing C-141 Starlifter upgrade training, he served as a C-141 pilot and instructor pilot with the 30th Military Airlift Squadron of the 438th Military Airlift Wing at McGuire AFB, New Jersey, from August 1975 to June 1981. Maj Camerota next served as Commander of Detachment 12, 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group at Kadena AB, Okinawa, from July 1981 to July 1984, followed by service as a C-21A pilot, instructor pilot, Mission Coordination Officer, and Safety Officer with the 58th Military Airlift Squadron at Ramstein AB, West Germany, from September 1984 until his retirement from the Air Force on October 1, 1987. After retiring from the Air Force, Pete flew for Federal Express for many years.
His Distinguished Flying Cross w/Valor Citation reads:
Captain Peter P. Camerota distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a B-52 Electronic Warfare Officer in Southeast Asia on 22 December 1972. On that date, Captain Camerota participated in high priority bombing missions against vital military targets in heavily defended areas of North Vietnam. Despite the intensity of the hostile defensive reactions and the grave threat that they posed, Captain Camerota displayed extraordinary courage and an outstanding ability to perform under stress as he placed the mission requirements above his personal safety while successfully countering each threat, thereby enabling his crew to complete their ordnance release on the designated targets. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Captain Camerota reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.