KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) At the age of 17, Tri-Cities native, Virgil Peters set his eyes on the Pacific to fight for his country against Japan, during World War II.
After three years at war, he returned home to become a husband, father, and eventually a businessman.
Though he does not want the memories of his time at war to fade, which is why he shares his courageous stories to people who will listen.
He is fearless, keen and has an undying love for his nation.
World War II Navy veteran, Virgil Peters said, “The Navy made a man out of me, really. It showed me excitement, duties to carry out and to do a job well.”
Virgil Peters is a World War II veteran. He enlisted at the age of 17, with the help of his mother’s signature.
“I went home and asked my mother. She said, ‘No, I already have four sons in and you’re not going. You’re my baby boy. I’m not going to sign your papers,” Peters said. “I finally turned the old charm on and she signed the papers for me.”
Born in Scott County, Virginia, Peters grew up in Kingsport, and was leaving home for very the time.
“It was 1943,” he said. “I went from home to Nashville to be inducted into the Navy.”
The Seaman 2nd class was at sea for three years.
Peters said, “But now if I went back, I’d be scared to death because I’m older, wiser, and know what could happen. You have to look at it, like if you’re watching the battle, like watching the ball game. Who’s going to win?”
He saw much of the war from a minesweeper on the Japanese coast.
“We had to escort our convoy into Iwo Jima to the battle, and that was whenever I was able to see the flagged raised on Iwo Jima,” he recalled.
Now, just two months shy of his 95th birthday, the veteran is on a new quest: writing stories about his time at war.
Peters said, “We were involved in what you call a big sweep. That was right after the war. That’s where all of the mines were. They were on each mainland, along the Japanese coast. We had to sweep them all before the American ships could come in. This was very dangerous, really.”
He is hoping to reignite the topic of his new book, ‘World War II and Beyond’ since the pandemic put a halt to things this time last year.
“I pretty much told my life in this book,” he said.
He is also telling stories of his fellow World War II veterans in the Tri-Cities as their coping mechanism.
“I have a lot of stories I haven’t even mentioned yet,” Peters said.