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Former KMTV engineer, WWII veteran returns to station ahead of 100th birthday

Posted at 7:15 PM, Aug 22, 2023

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — You never saw him in front of the camera, but for nearly four decades Roger Peters played a crucial role in getting KMTV on the air.

To celebrate a special milestone this week we invited him back out to the station.

"Boy I'll tell ya, you guys have gone computer crazy, haven't you?" he laughed.

Peters turns 100 years old Thursday.

He is a television pioneer. He joined KMTV within its first five years on air and worked as an engineer at both of the locations we have called home.

"I would be here three days and then I would be going out to the tall tower downtown,” he recounts. “Doing maintenance on everything."

That’s just a portion of life well lived that started with him enlisting in the Army during World War II. He served in the U.S. 9th Army, 1143 Engineer Combat Group in France and Germany.

"One of the primary things we did was put a bridge across the Elbe River," he said. “We named it the Truman Bridge when we first put it up, but after we started working with all those refugees, we called it the Freedom Bridge."

Peters shared several WWII stories with 3 News Now Anchor Zach Williamson. One story really stuck out.

Near the end of the war, he was walking by himself down the road when a military truck stopped and offered him a ride.

"I looked over at the driver — German Sergeant driving the truck. I looked in the back, there's about 20 German soldier soldiers back there, prisoners of war I guess," he recalls.

Communication was limited during the ride due to the language barrier. Peters began listing German cities he had been to. Each time they would all react saying they had been in the same ones.

“These were the guys that were right in front of me. These were my real enemies,” he remembers. “When I said Blockade, they went (hands up). That’s where they surrendered.”

The rest of the ride they rode in silence. It was what happened once he was finally dropped off, though, that gave Peters the closure that he needed.

"His eyes were shining with tears, and he reached out his hand, and I reached out mine, and my eyes were shining with tears. We shook hands. My real enemy — it's over."

His time in the service benefited him for life after.

"I learned to keep moving all the time in the Army for one thing."

He fell in love with bicycling when his son, David, who had cerebral palsy, showed interest in it. The two went on bike trips all across the state.

"1,100 miles in two weeks usually," he said. “That really helped David's morale."

His other son, Mark, also began going on the rides, along with long canoe rides.

At 87 years old, he became the oldest person to do the Bike Ride Across Nebraska.

On the water, it wasn’t only canoes — he windsurfed until he was 96 years old.

"I windsurfed in the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Colombia River — which is the greatest windsurfing spot in the world," he proudly said.

Peters said one of the most rewarding experiences he had was when he served as a teacher’s aid at Skyline Elementary in Elkhorn for nine years.

That’s where he says he received his greatest compliment — coming from a second grader.

"'Mr. Peters, you're just like us except you got wrinkles.' That made my day. I knew I had found my place."

Through his service and unforgettable presence, there’s no doubt he’s left his footprint every place he's been.

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Email: mission.service@3newsnow.com