GREENWOOD, S.C. (WSPA) – Every year, 21 soldiers are honored with plaques that hang at the Greenwood County Hall of Heroes.
“It’s one thing to received your awards and decorations in the Military, but when you get back out here people never know who they walk by,” said Laurens and Greenwood County Veterans Affairs Officer Carey Bolt.
At 96-years-old, World War II Veteran Harold Peters, better known as H.D., was nominated.
“It was pretty exciting,” he said. “It was a big surprise!”
In October, Peters was inducted into the Greenwood Veterans Museum. Bolt says a shadow box of Peters’ accomplishments will be displayed at the Hall of Heroes Veterans Museum for the next year.
“Lots of the Veterans like World War II and our Vietnam Veterans, they didn’t get the accolades they need or even Korea,” Bolt told 7News. “It’s special for me that way to honor them publicly. It’s a good thing for them and their families.”
At just 19-years-old, Peters tried to enlist in the service but says he was rejected by every branch for having a lazy eye.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Army took him in.
His first assignment was the Military Police in Williamsburg, Pa., where he was a German Interpreter on prisoner of war transport trains.
In 1944, he trained to be a Field Medic and Surgical Assistant.
He told 7News of his time during the Battle of Okinawa, the last major battle and bloodiest of the war.
“I saw a lot of wounded men and civilians,” Peters said.
Peters treated the wounded during the war. His wife Barbara says her husband was in the trenches with no protection.
“Medics didn’t carry guns in the war,” Barbara Peters told 7News. “They didn’t carry guns. They carried all the medical supplies and things like that, that they needed to treat people in the field.”
The hero walked away unharmed.
“He didn’t get hurt, except for one night he said he put his hand over the edge of the fox hole when a flare came up and he got a piece of scrap in his thumb,” Barbara Peters said. “That’s all that ever happened to him.”
More than 70 years later, it’s still hard to think about.
“There were a lot of things that happened that were very unpleasant,” Harold Peters said.
It took Peters more than 25 years to open up about what he saw in the bloody battles that took place in Japan.
“It’s hard to remember everything,” he said.
At the end of the war, Peters returned as if nothing has changed.
“His generation they just [went] right [back] at life,” Barbara Peters told 7News. “They didn’t have the type of triage and knowledge of psychology that they do now.”
The American hero says he would do it all over again. Especially for one more chance to stand tall and proud in uniform.
In 1946, Peters was honorably discharged after a brief deployment in Korea.
He was awarded a Bronze Star and World War II Victory Medal.
According to statistics from the Department of Veteran Affairs of the 16 million Americans that served in World War II, less than 400,000 are still alive today.