First Posted: 11/11/2014
In a room full of peers, Clyde Peters said he was just a soldier doing his job.
Sam Pugh might feel differently.
Peters, 64 of Plymouth, is a Vietnam veteran, having served in Southeast Asia in 1968-69. Peters was a guest of the Back Mountain Men’s Ecumenical Group on this Veterans Day and his message was delivered to about 60 members, many of them veterans of war.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1968, Peters’ unit was ambushed in the jungle and retreated. Pugh, Peters’ friend, was shot and went down.
Peters turned back and got Pugh, lifting him onto his back. Running for safety, Peters was shot but made it out and he and Pugh were taken in a helicopter to safety.
In 2008, Peters and his fellow unit members attended a 40-year reunion of that day in the jungle. Pugh was there.
The two talked. Pugh introduced Peters to his wife and the couple told Pugh about their children and grandchildren.
Peters said Pugh told him he always tells his family none of them would be here today if it weren’t for the heroic efforts of Clyde Peters.
It was an emotional experience for Peters, who admitted he never realized the long-lasting impact of saving a fellow soldier’s life.
“I would never leave a man behind,” he told the group. “Going back and getting Sam was the only thing to do for me. My buddy was shot and I had to go get him.”
Peters said meeting Pugh and his wife 40 years later was a very humbling experience. The two keep in touch; in fact, Pugh’s wife sent Peters a “Happy Veterans Day” text message yesterday.
“Like many of you here today, I was just a soldier doing his job,” Peters said. “Let me thank all of you for your service and thank you for having me here. It means a lot to me.”
Peters was a member of A-Company, 2nd and 28th Infantry — “The Black Lions” — and now runs the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1425 in Plymouth.
Peters organized a drive to erect a Vietnam Memorial on West Main Street to honor the borough’s seven Vietnam veterans killed in action.
Peters is now involved again with Plymouth VFW and the Plymouth American Legion Post 463 in restoring the last standing Honor Roll that sits at Second and Reynolds streets.
Honoring veterans is Peters’ passion. He also participated in a Veterans Day ceremony Tuesday on West Main Street in Plymouth.
The youngest of 17 children born to Edward and Lillian Peters, Peters doesn’t like to “blow my own horn.” He told the Ecumenical Group he will always be committed to honoring veterans.
After the breakfast, State Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, presented Peters with a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.