Oklahoma World War II veteran receives distinguished medal on 100th birthday

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A World War II veteran received a distinguished honor for his service in Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Division.

Lt. Col. Oren L. Peters received the Oklahoma Thunderbird Medal, the Oklahoma National Guard’s highest award presented to a civilian.

The ceremony, which took place on Saturday, happened to fall on Peters’ 100th birthday.

Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, adjutant general for Oklahoma, poses with Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oren L. Peters, World War II and Korean War Veteran from the renowned 45th Infantry Division, Saturday, April 10, 2021, during a Thunderbird Medal presentation ceremony. The Thunderbird Medal is the Oklahoma National Guard’s highest award presented to a civilian and was presented to Peters for his distinguished military service. (Oklahoma National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Geoff Legler)
Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, adjutant general for Oklahoma, poses with Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oren L. Peters, World War II and Korean War Veteran from the renowned 45th Infantry Division, Saturday, April 10, 2021, during a Thunderbird Medal presentation ceremony. The Thunderbird Medal is the Oklahoma National Guard’s highest award presented to a civilian and was presented to Peters for his distinguished military service. (Oklahoma National Guard photo by Lt. Col. Geoff Legler)

“For a hundred years, Lt. Col. Peters has served his community, state and nation and I am humbled to have the opportunity to present him with the Thunderbird Medal on behalf of the Soldiers and Airmen of the Oklahoma National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, the adjutant general for Oklahoma.

Peters enlisted into the 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Oklahoma Army National Guard in January of 1939.

Officials say Peters served 511 days in combat in Europe during World War II.

His service overseas earned him the Silver Star for gallantry in action, the Bronze Star for heroism, and the Purple Heart for being wounded in action.

After being discharged, Peters re-enlisted into the 45th Infantry Division and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in June 1948.

More than three years later in December 1951, he deployed to Korea where he earned additional awards, including his second Combat Infantry Badge.

Peters worked as a full-time federal technician for the Oklahoma Army National Guard from 1954-1978, where he held numerous positions both as a commissioned officer and a chief warrant officer. He retired from the Oklahoma National Guard in 1981 as a lieutenant colonel.

He was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in 2011 for his outstanding accomplishments and distinguished military service.

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