South Shore vet marshals Virginia City parade
VIRGINIA CITY – As he climbed up on the back of the orange Mustang in the midst of a snowstorm, Col. Roger Peard remarked that this would be the first time he was in a parade and didn’t have to march.
After 30 years of service and three wars, Peard, 80, was honored Saturday as the grand marshal of the Virginia City Memorial Day Parade.
His wife, Dee, said the honor is well-deserved.
“He’s a kind person, and he’s very passive. Which is hard to believe about someone who was a Marine for 30 years,” Dee Peard said. “He’s just a good man and cares about other people.”
Peard joined the Naval Academy in 1944, at the end of World War II. After completing his schooling, he joined the Marine Corps in 1949. He was sent to Korea and was part of the Inchon landing and the Seoul campaign before he was removed from combat after contracting hepatitis.
During the campaign, he tripped a land mine and received shrapnel in his back and jaw, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. Upon returning to the States, he went into aviation, flying light helicopters before learning to fly planes.
He was stationed in Washington, D.C., as a design officer for one of the planes he flew, but yearned to be back out in the field.
In the Vietnam War, he flew heavy helicopters and was a squadron commander and an executive officer.
“Flying heavy helicopters was a waste of a fixed-wing aviator. They are so different,” Peard recalled.
After spending 15 months in Vietnam, Peard was stationed in Hawaii as part of the staff to the command general for all the Pacific marine forces, a job for which he really didn’t care.
“I hated it. It was a staff job, and I’m not really a staff guy sitting behind a desk,” Peard said.
Dee Peard said, “He is very unique. He was a Marine for 30 years, and he never smoked a cigarette and never drank a cup of coffee.”
After 30 years of service, Peard retired from military life and began working as a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. He has lived in South Lake Tahoe since 1974.
Five years ago, he retired from the casino after 20 years.
Peard said that after spending 50 years of his life doing what other people told him to, it was time to do what he wanted.
So he started racing Corvettes. He has four: from 2002, 1993, 1980 and 1964.
Over the weekend of May 18-21, Peard finished first in his class in the Nevada Open Road Challenge in Ely. His average speed was 150 mph.
Looking back on all the aspects of his life, Peard said one of the best things he did was join the armed forces. He still recommends it for those considering military service.
“It’s a good thing for a young man to do. It will get his head on straight about a lot of things,” Peard said.
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