Six Superior brothers' military service to be honoredA flag with six stars — one for each brother who served his country during World War II — hung in the window of 2001 Banks Ave., where Henry and Elsie Peters prayed for their sons’ safe return.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A flag with six stars — one for each brother who served his country during World War II — hung in the window of 2001 Banks Ave., where Henry and Elsie Peters prayed for their sons’ safe return.
“The day the war was over, we put this in the car and went up and down Tower Avenue tooting the horn,” said Marianne Peters, who married the youngest of the brothers, Floyd.
The flag and biographies of the men will be on display at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center for a week as part of the Flag of Remembrance program. At 9 a.m. Friday, a flag will be raised outside the center to honor the six Peters brothers, all of whom came home.
None of the brothers is still alive; the last one, Raymond, died in 2010.
The eldest, Emil E. Peters, returned to his wife and three little girls after serving in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1946. He spent much of that time in Japan as a truck master, earning the rank of sergeant.
“I think that the World War II men and women, if it had not been for them, our nation would — for my generation, anyway — not have been what it is today,” said Emil’s daughter, Darolyn Crawford of Ohio.
Although she was young at the time, Crawford remembered her “gentle giant” of a father talk about giving children Hershey candy bars and tangerines and they would keep coming back for more.
Marvin Levi Peters enlisted in the Navy in 1942, a year after marrying his wife, Pearl. Trained as a gunner’s mate, he served aboard the USS Parks, seeing significant action in the South Pacific. He received his honorable discharge in 1945 and returned to Superior to enjoy his first son.
Alvin LeRoy Peters enlisted in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946, after helping construct Pattison Park as a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Alvin attained the rank of boatswain mate 2nd class, serving on the aircraft carrier USS Santae, which escorted convoys of merchant ships from the United States to the United Kingdom. He started as a plane pusher and worked his way up to a crane operator on the flight deck, then transferred to the Pacific on a repair ship that followed behind battleships to repair damage and provide maintenance. When the war ended, he remained in the Navy another six months, serving in China.
“My father believed in keeping our country safe,” said Alvin’s daughter, Joyce Hatanpa of Dayton, Minn. He often talked about the different islands he visited and retained a love of boating. “The higher the waves, the happier he was,” she said.
Her father could protect the world, Hatanpa said, yet he could also bathe and rock a tiny baby.
Norman Peters also enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps, which paved the way for his enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1941. He arrived in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 12, 1941, five days after the attack by Japan. He served aboard the light cruiser USS Honolulu, participating in numerous Pacific battles and actions, including the capture and defense of Guadalcanal. During one battle, he rescued three unconscious sailors who had gone overboard. During the course of his service, Norman was temporarily blinded, injured by shrapnel from Japanese dive-bombing, burned on his arms and had permanent hearing damage from the ship’s guns and enemy bombs, according to his grandson, Christopher.
“Norm remained proud of his service to his country for the rest of his life, saluting the American flag in his yard every morning as he left home,” said his wife, Arlene.
Raymond Levi Peters followed in his brothers’ footsteps, joining the U.S. Navy on the LCI-1071. He was a gunner’s mate 2nd class and served during seven invasions in the South Pacific. One of the stories he told his children was about the crew being granted a ration of beer to help unwind and deal with the horrors of war. Because he
didn’t drink, he was assigned to punch holes in the cans and drop them into the ocean. Thoughts of home were triggered by the cans of Leinenkugel beer from Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Although none of the brothers served together, Raymond and Alvin were able to connect briefly when their ships were in the same port, according to Raymond’s son, Tim Peters, who is serving in the U.S. Navy. Raymond was granted permission to go see his brother, and the captain said he would send word if they had to set sail. When Raymond returned, his ship was gone. Orders had come down and they put to sea without him. He was brought before the captain, but when he reminded the captain of his promise to send word, all charges were dropped.
When his brothers went to war, Floyd E. Peters was working at the family business, Waterbury Furnace Company, with his father and Uncle Art. At age 17, he wanted to join his brothers and talked his parents into signing for him to enlist.
“Floyd was very proud to be able to serve his country in the Navy,” wrote his wife, Marianne. After training at Great Lakes, Ill., he was stationed in Tennessee. Unlike his brothers, Floyd never served overseas; the war was over. Returning home, he joined his father and brothers in the family furnace business.
The Peters brothers, who loved to hunt and fish, remained close for the rest of their lives. Hatanpa said that when her parents, Alvin and Lorraine, went on their honeymoon, the fishing on the lake was so good that Alvin invited his brother Marvin, along with his wife and son, to fish with them.
Many of the brothers remained in the heating and air-conditioning business, and all are remembered as strong, Christian men.
“They loved their country and wanted to serve and do what they could do,” said Norman’s wife, Arlene Peters.
Marianne has been trying to coordinate a joint flag ceremony in honor of the Peters men for years, Arlene Peters said. Although it is unusual to raise a flag for so many brothers, joint ceremonies have been held for fathers and sons, brothers or other family members. About 80 family members are expected to attend Friday’s event, and the event is open to the public. They may need nametags, Arlene Peters said.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing to pay honor to these six guys,” she said. They hunted and fished together, worked together and went to war together. Friday, they will be remembered together.