Local veteran Virgil Peters is giving readers an inside look at what it was like to serve during World War II.
Earlier this year, Peters released his first book, called “World War II and Beyond: Through the Eyes of an Appalachian Country Boy.” The book tells the story of Peters’ life, sharing details from his small-town upbringing, his military and business careers and his journey through retirement.
What’s your background?
Peters was born on a farm in Scott County and moved to the Lynn Garden community of Kingsport when he was 12 years old. After finishing school, he went to work at a shoe store in Kingsport before enlisting in the U.S. Navy.
“When I joined the Navy, I already had four brothers that were already in the service, in the Army,” Peters said. “That made five of us at one time.”
He completed his training in California, then went to Portland, Oregon, to board a minesweeper ship. Soon after, he got orders to go to the South Pacific, where the war was being fought. While his crew was escorting convoys to the battlefront, he had the opportunity to see the flag raised on Iwo Jima.
“From Iwo Jima, we went back to doing escort duty, and we escorted a large convoy to Saipan, and I didn’t know at the time but we wondered why we were escorting a large convoy, but the convoy was preparing to invade Tokyo, and we had to escort them in and to sweep all the mines in front,” Peters said. “Of course, the war was over about that time, and I was at Saipan whenever the atomic bombs were dropped. Then we thought we were coming home, because the war was over, but we got orders to sweep all the mines up and down the Japanese coast, and we had to stay six months more.”
Once he got home, Peters had trouble finding another job, but he eventually ended up at Typewriter & Equipment Company in Kingsport, climbing the ladder from technician to owner. He retired in 1993 and began pursuing other interests, such as showing horses.
“From then on, I’ve had a different life,” Peters said. “I more or less just enjoy life. What I’ve been through, it didn’t take much for me to enjoy life.”
What’s the book about?
The book begins with Peters’ upbringing as a country boy from the Appalachian Mountains, before diving into his time in the Navy during the war and his time after the military. He was inspired to write the book after his pastor and others encouraged him to share his unique story.
“Winter was coming on, and that was my project this past winter, writing the book,” Peters said. “Once I got into it, all my memories came back to me about me being in the South Pacific in the Navy, all the way back to when I was 6 years old.”
The book was published Feb. 17 and is available for purchase on Amazon. The book is dedicated to Peters’ great-grandson, Michael Peters, and was typed by RoJean Head, one of the people who inspired him to write it.
Peters said some people have encouraged him to write a second book, but he doesn’t have any concrete plans to do so. For now, his focus is simply on enjoying life.
“I might think about it, but I don’t know,” Peters said. “I pretty much put in there, anyway, what my life was about.”