2013-07-30 / Front Page

Arkansas Crash Kills Mule Team, Injures Traveling Vietnam Veteran

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


With the help of his team of mules, Vietnam War veteran Charlie Peters made his way toward Spencer on U.S. 231 in late May. 
(SEW File Photo) With the help of his team of mules, Vietnam War veteran Charlie Peters made his way toward Spencer on U.S. 231 in late May. (SEW File Photo) A Vietnam War veteran from Michigan who made his way through Cloverdale and Spencer in late May was just 150 miles away from his Oklahoma destination when the wagon his team of mules were leading was struck by a motorist on U.S. 64 in Ozark, Arkansas.

While Peters himself suffered rib injuries, his team of mules, ‘Maddie and Cass,’ died from injuries sustained in the July 24th crash.

Peters was initially taken to nearby Mercy Hospital-Turner Memorial in Ozark, but was later transferred to the veterans hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The mule-led wagon of Peters was traveling westbound at approximately 7:00 p.m. when a pickup truck driven by 18-year-old Brandy Summers struck the wagon from behind. She was not injured.

“The other vehicle was westbound... and the wagon was rear-ended, which kind of spun it sideways and the truck kept going forward and ended up coming to rest on top of the two mules,” Ozark City Police Lieutenant Jonathan Little told the Pine Bluff Commercial. “She said that she looked down at something in her vehicle and when she looked back up the sun was glaring in her eyes, which that’s right about that time of day on that area, and she didn’t even see the wagon.”


With approximately 400 miles down, 700 more miles of road remained ahead for Charlie Peters and his team of mules on their trip from Michigan to Oklahoma following an overnight stop in Spencer on May 29. 
(SEW File Photo) With approximately 400 miles down, 700 more miles of road remained ahead for Charlie Peters and his team of mules on their trip from Michigan to Oklahoma following an overnight stop in Spencer on May 29. (SEW File Photo) Peters left his home in Owosso, Michigan bound for his father’s grave site in Okemah, Oklahoma. R.B Peters was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II.

“I’ve never been to his grave, so I want to go there and say, ‘Thank you for your service, pop,” Peters told the Spencer Evening World during his overnight stop in Spencer back in May.

Peters served in the Navy from 1966 through 1970, including a stint in Vietnam in ‘69 and ‘70 before returning to the states and settling in Michigan with his wife, Herminia, and retiring from General Motors.

As of Friday, Peters was no longer a patient at the veterans hospital in Fayetteville.

Speaking to the Spencer Evening World in late May, Peters said his unique endeavour to thank fellow veterans for their service was sparked by an encounter he had while on vaca- tion with his wife three years ago in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“We went into his antique store. I found a Navy dinner plate and it didn’t have a pice tag on it, so I went up to the man at the cash register and asked how much it was,” Peters explained.

The cashier told him the plate cost one million dollars, to which Peters answered was a little high for his liking, but he would love to have the piece for his collection.

“He said, ‘Were you ever in the service?’ and I said, ‘Yes, sir,’” Peters recalled. “He said, ‘You ever go to Vietnam?’ I said, ‘Yes, I did.’ He looked me right in the eye, stuck out his hand and said, ‘Thank you for your service.”

Peters said he left the store with the plate at no charge, but appreciated more those few words he hadn’t heard directed toward him in 45 years... ‘Thank you for your service.’

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