WWII Veteran returns to service

This story originally appeared in the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger-News written by Margaret Waage (https://www.tribuneledgernews.com/local_news/call-of-duty-world-war-ii-veteran-returns-to-service/article_5e5a3cc2-c7d2-11e8-b52a-9b543fcfbf83.html)

At the age of 99, a Canton man was recalled to active duty with the U.S. Navy last week and reported to Port Canaveral, Florida.

Center, Captain Gerald Peddicord, a retired United States Naval officer and a proud veteran of the USS Indiana, is accompanied by his son Lieutenant Colonel Craig Peddicord, US Army (retired), at right, during the commissioning ceremony of the new Navy Virginia class submarine at Port Canaveral, Fl., on Sept. 29. The USS Indiana (SSN 789), the newest Virginia-class attack submarine which is the most modern and sophisticated in the world, was commissioned on Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Navy port at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Over 5,000 people attended. Florida Today/Tim Shortt

Capt. Gerald ‘Jerry’ Peddicord, who is looking forward to celebrating his 100th birthday on Nov. 16, was asked by the Navy to return to active duty and proceed under orders to attend the commissioning of the new Navy Virginia class submarine, the USS Indiana (SSN 789) held last Saturday.
“It’s a new ship and it’s never been operated until now,” Peddicord said. “I was surprised to hear from them and I think they contacted me when they found out I am the oldest living survivor of the battleship USS Indiana (BB-58) where I served and attended the commissioning of on April 19, 1942.”
The September 29th commissioning ceremony marks the acceptance of the submarine USS Indiana as a unit of the operating forces of Navy and is where its new crew takes over the ship.
Peddicord was accompanied by his son Lt. Col. Craig Peddicord, who is an Army retiree. Father and son live together in Canton. The latest Naval Academy’s monthly magazine Shipmate showed Peddicord listed as the fourteenth oldest living member of the Naval Academy.
From its initial naming June 22, 2012, to its commissioning last week, the submarine USS Indiana is the fourth ship to bear that name over the past 70 years.
Peddicord was 18 when he joined the Navy and served for a total of 33 years. “I was enlisted that’s how I got into the Navy. From the enlisted ranks, I joined the Naval Academy as a midshipman student.” Peddicord said. “They sped up our graduation because of World War II and we went to summer school. That put us to graduation six months early in Dec. 19, 1941.”
From there Peddicord went to M.I.T. and the naval research lab to learn basic radar. “Radar at that time was becoming operational. We haven’t always had radar,” Peddicord said. Peddicord was then ordered to the USS Indiana battleship which was also built at Newport News Shipbuilding, where he remained to April of 1994.
He went on an “island hopping” campaign to Japan, where he was in an active combat zone. “The water canal operations started in August of 1942 at Tarawa and Kwajalein, plus raids on three other islands,” Peddicord said.
Peddicord had flight training in Dallas, Texas, and then Pensacola, Florida for intermediate training, and then finished training at Daytona Beach, Florida.

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2018) Capt. Gerald Peddicord (ret.), a plank owner on USS Indiana (BB 58), presents Lt. Keenan Coleman, the ships’ Weapons Officer and first Officer of the Deck, with the Long Glass prior to USS Indiana (SSN 789) setting the first watch. U.S. Navy’s 16th Virginia-class fast-attack submarine and the third ship named for the State of Indiana. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffrey M. Richardson/Released)

“Every pilot had to make eight qualifications landings aboard an aircraft carrier ship before earning their wings,” Peddicord said. “I had to land on a converted ferry boat for my qualifications. You’ve heard the expression ‘God is my co-pilot,’ well God was my co-pilot my whole life. He was with me all the way. I came so close to being killed so many times.” On March 25, 1945, Peddicord received his wings becoming a naval aviator. During the commissioning ceremony Peddicord, assisted in setting the first watch by passing the “long glass” – a telescope – to Indiana’s first Officer of the Deck, Lt Cmdr. Jeremy Leazer.

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