Ron Peters left home at 17 to seek his fortune, serving with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II on Tinian in the South Pacific, in China, Burma and India. Soon after the war he accepted a job as a warehouse manager in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he dined with sheikhs and the Emperor Haile Selassi. At the end of his contract he sailed home, first class, on the Queen Mary where he wore tuxedos for dinner and sat at the Captain's table. Later he accepted another position as an accountant with the CalTex Oil Company in Shanghai, China. As the Chinese government collapsed during the Communist revolution, he watched from his apartment as Mao Tse Tung's army marched into town as Gen. Chiang Kai-Shek's terrified soldiers stripped off their uniforms and tried to blend in with the populace. He was forced to leave the country with whatever he could carry. In 1949 he was back in the Army with U.S. forces in South Korea. By 1956 he was stationed in Tokyo, Japan, where he met, fell in love and married our mother, the former Wakaba Tanaka. By the time he had retired from the Army in 1979 as a master sergeant, he had served in most major conflicts and several small ones as well, from World War II to the Vietnam War.
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Dad was a man who never wore his life on his sleeve. He often talked of his adventures but he never bragged. He was the perennial fly on the wall. From witnessing the loading of the atomic bomb into a B-29 on Tinian, to riding in the over flight of B-29 bombers over the deck of the Mighty Mo' while the Japanese signed the surrender documents below, to dinner with the Emperor of Ethiopia, and the fall of Shanghai. In his 90 years of life, Dad was a witness to history. This is a man who went through every-man's bucket list and then some.
When he finally met and married our mother Wakaba (Susan) Tanaka in Tokyo, Japan, it was the start of another adventure. As a military family we lived and travelled all over the world. Three years living and travelling in Europe, another four years in Japan, travelling throughout Asia. Hop scotching across the United States, moving every year and a half, we lived like gypsies, but it was a wonderful life and it made our small family of four very close.
Dad retired from the Army in 1979. The last 35 years of his life have been pretty quiet, for him, a man of adventure, maybe too quiet. But we know he found peace. Finally our mom and dad could spend the quiet time together they so long deserved. They became active in First Baptist Church of Fort Walton Beach, travelled and spent time with their grandchildren. Dad volunteered as a chaplain for the Fort Walton Beach Disabled American Veterans. Daughter, Catherine, married Scott Irwin, and son, James, married the former Cathy Nishimoto. Catherine blessed our parents with two brilliant grandsons, and James, three beautiful granddaughters.
Ron Peters is survived by wife, Susan Wakaba Peters; daughter, Catherine Irwin and husband Scott; grandsons, Cole and Gage Irwin; son, James Peters and wife Cathy; and granddaughters, Caitlin and Hayley Peters, and Ashlee (husband Andy) Takamura.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., followed by a service at 10:30 a.m., at Emerald Coast Funeral Home, 113 Racetrack Road N.E., Fort Walton Beach, FL. Committal service is to follow at Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola, Fla.
Expressions of love and sympathy may be viewed at www.emeraldcoastfunearlhome.com.
Emerald Coast Funeral Home
113 Racetrack Rd NE
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News on June 15, 2014