Bill Peters is a hero.
When I tell him that, he says, "I'm no hero, I was scared to death."
On a wall in his basement beside a photograph of his WWll outfit, hangs a heavy aluminum leg brace which he wore for 22 years as a result of shrapnel which tore through his left leg after his jeep was blown out from under him.
A good deal of his time in the army was spent behind enemy lines in Germany, blowing up bridges, sections of railroads and derailing NAZI trains by removing railroad ties. Bill frequently worked hand-in-hand with male and female resistance fighters.
Bill served with the 44th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, the outfit that the German-born rocket scientist, Wernher von Brawn, surrendered to in May, 1945. One incident, and there were many, that I would like to mention involved an old German farmhouse that Bill and his patrol stumbled across on a cold, snowy morning in 1944.
Bill was told to stay behind while his buddies looked around. Soon after they left, Bill looked out the window and saw a German patrol heading toward the house. Since he was outgunned, the only thing he could do was hide Ñ and the only place to hid was up the fireplace chimney.
When I asked him how he was able to hid in the chimney he said he used the steel spikes to climb up the chimney. The spikes, he explained, were used by German farmers to cure meat. He said his heart was pounding so hard that he was afraid the Germans could hear it.
After a few minutes the Germans kicked the snow off their boots and left. Thank God, he said, they didn't start a fire in the fireplace! I hope to write more about Bill in the coming months.
Ben Morris, MA, RPA is an archaeological and historical columnist for the Daily News. He can be reached at 812-932-0298 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Peters is a hero.
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