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Wayne Peters 1934-2017

 

When he passed away Feb 9 at his home in Potomac MD, our flotilla shipmate and former navy carrier pilot Wayne Peters was just weeks short of serving 36 years in the auxiliary, having joined on Mar 2, 1981. He was 82 years old and had been fighting cancer going on two years.

As an aircraft commander, Wayne would fly his beloved Rockwell Commander 114 on auxiliary MOM patrols and OPEX flights in support of RWAI currency at Air Station Atlantic City.

Because auxdata records go back only as far as 1995, Wayne’s first 14 years remain much a mystery, but by 1995 we know he was flotilla commander, later serving as ADSO-OP, BC-OAS, DSO and, most recently, as our flotilla FSO-OP. Over the years he received 34 individual and unit citations for outstanding performance.

The son of a World War II navy officer, in 1956 Wayne was halfway through his studies at the University of Maryland, evidently without stellar success, when he took advantage of the navy’s cadet aviation program, signed up and reported to Pensacola for pilot training. At the time the navy’s primary trainer was the T-34B Mentor, also known as the washing machine, because in 11 hours of flight training you either met tough standards or washed out.

Not only did Wayne pass muster, he went on to be an instructor at Pensacola, later also was stationed at Whitby Island, Moffett Field and Subic Bay.

During the Vietnam War, while he did not see actual combat, Wayne flew A-4Skyhawks off the Essex class carriers Bon Homme Richard and Ticonderoga. Although a relatively lightweight attack aircraft, the A-4 could carry the B43 nuclear weapon, to be delivered at low altitude, Wayne said, using a half Cuban 8 to toss the bomb and get out of harm’s way. Reportedly Wayne's assigned target: the Soviet Pacific Fleet base at Vladivostok.

Leaving active service as a lieutenant in 1967, Wayne joined the Naval Reserve for the next 12 years, retiring in 1979 with the rank of commander.

In civilian life, Wayne worked for a while as a stock broker, then as a financial officer for the Dept of Energy. In 2003, he became a docent for the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, usually going out every Thursday to the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport.

Wayne leaves behind his wife of 37 years, Ann O’Mara, their daughter, Carolyn, a son from his previous marriage, Jonathan, as well as three grandchildren. Also his many friends, including those of us in the auxiliary who have been privileged to know him.

A funeral service and interment with full military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetary, June 26 at 1 pm.

Postscript: Wayne did go back to the University of Maryland for his BS degree in 1983.