Captain faced tough challenges during WWII

Capt. Herbert Peters (Ret.) of Punta Gorda, Fla. landed at Utah Beach during the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944, and continued fighting throughout Europe during the rest of the war. After the fighting was over, he became part of the occupation troops.

Here is his story:

“The capitulation of Germany in May 1945 brought to an end the war in Europe and with it the rapid dismantling of our forces,” he wrote. “With the end of the war my service in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Service, for the time being, was ended.

“My job in SHAEF headquarters, Paris was ended. Within a week I was in charge of a food depot in Antwerp, Belgium. Lucky for me, the food line was my civilian occupation. I fit in and felt to be contributing to the assignment.

“Eight months later I was transferred to a prisoner of war guard company in Liege, Belgium,” Peters wrote. “It was a miserable, day-long drive by Jeep through deep snow to Liege.

“The night duty clerk gave me the grisly news of what I was about to take over. It was a company of 180 black men, isolated and quarantined in a tent city because of their high rate of sexually transmitted diseases. They were guarding German prisoners of war who were housed in comfortable three-story, concrete barracks.

“By now, I felt my heart pounding in my shoes. What a challenge.

“A complete inventory of men and equipment revealed many of these GI prison guards were missing clothing, blankets and shoes. The GIs pulling guard duty were borrowing their buddies’ uniforms and using blankets of anybody on duty,” Peters wrote.

“My quartermaster friends in Antwerp came to my rescue within a couple of days. We were issued clothing and bedding, plus incidentals to every one of the GIs who needed them.

“My next challenge was finding suitable quarters for my company. I had to get permission from headquarters, the medics, the clergy and the MPs. Eventually we were allowed to move into ideally located quarters in the city.

“The men of my company were of major concern. In a meeting I placed my plan before them. They could stay where we were in the tents or conform to strictly regulated behavior and obtain better quarters,” Peters noted.

“This meant while they were off duty no one would get a pass to leave the company area unless accompanied by a member of our unit,” he said. “Both would be responsible for each others troublesome behavior. The unit quarantine would be lifted, except for VD patients.

“The men cheered for the changes ahead. Within a short time we left tent city and settled into our new, much better quarters. The morale of the men went sky high.

“A couple of months passed until the highlight of my military career took place. Retreat was called on that particular night. The troops were prepared to fall in, in Class A uniforms, including weapons inspection. The order of the day was presented by the 1st sergeant — my promotion from lieutenant to captain.

“My petition for transfer to battalion headquarters was initiated by every company member. Tears streamed down my cheeks. It was an event I shall never forget and treasure in my lifetime,” Peters concluded.

Capt. Herbert Peters served in the U.S. Army from 1942 until 1943. During WWII he was awarded the European Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars for landing at Utah Beach and the liberation of Paris, the WWII Victory Medal Army of Occupation Medal, Normandy Medal of the Jubilee of Liberty, the Diploma de La Liberation of France, the Good Conduct Medal and the Rifle Marksmanship and Sharpshooter Medals.

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Sept. 19, 2002 and is republished with permission.

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Herbert F. “Herb” Peters, 100, of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla., went to heaven Monday, Aug. 5, 2013.

Herb was born in Duren, Germany, June 28, 1913, and lived in Berlin, Germany during World War I, and thereafter in Boppard and St. Goar, Germany, where his mother owned/operated a hotel, across from the famous Lorelei. He attended private high schools in Germany, studying Latin and French. In 1929 he immigrated to the US through Ellis Island, NY, and settled in Dayton, Ohio.

Herb was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1942, and, after completion of OCS training, was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to Military Intelligence due to his extensive language skills in German, French and English. In 1944, Herb shipped out for England, where he worked on censoring military intelligence while stationed in Glenfield and London. After landing on Utah Beach, his unit was transferred to Paris HQ Military Intelligence. While on a mission in Epernay, Herb suffered severe frost-bite causing permanent injuries.

Herb returned to the States in 1946 on reserve status. During the Korean War, Herb returned to active duty in Bremerhaven, Germany as Team Chief, gathering intelligence along the eastern German border. In 1953, he was offered a promotion to Major and recommended to enter the OSS language school in Monterey, Calif., but elected to return to civilian life. Captain Herbert F. Peters was a decorated veteran, having earned multiple awards and honors for his many years of military service.

After his military service, Herb returned to his career as a manager for Gershows Supermarkets in Dayton, Ohio. In the late 1950s, Herb left Gershows to own service stations, eventually operating several in the Dayton area, and also served as an officer of SOGDA (the Southwestern Ohio Gasoline Dealers Assn). In addition, Herb operated a real estate business of buying/building apartments and houses in Dayton, Beavercreek, Xenia and Lake Shawnee, Ohio. Herb lived in Beavercreek, OH from 1958-1979.

Herb retired to Punta Gorda Isles in 1979, and for many years was active with the Isles Civic Association as the travel/entertainment director, responsible for planning numerous trips to many local and foreign destinations. Herb was an active member of the Punta Gorda Isles Yacht Club, where he enjoyed living and laughing with friends and dancing with Betty. Herb was also a member of various organizations, including the Disabled Veterans Organization, the Retired Officers Association, the CIC Army Counter Intelligence Corps Veterans, the Antioch Shrine (Dayton), the Dayton Masonic Lodge #147, and the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite (Valley of Dayton).

Herb is survived by his loving wife, Elizabeth “Betty”; his son, Timothy (Mary) Murray of Brandon, Fla.; son, Paul (Geri) Peters of Dayton; son, Mark (Loretta) Peters of Darien, Conn; and grandchildren, Kathy, Erin, Morgan, Jensen and Grayson.

A memorial service will be held at Royal Palm Memorial Gardens, Punta Gorda on Saturday, August 17th at 10:00 AM.

He will be greatly missed by all those whose lives he touched…

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