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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 9, 2006

Combat chaplain Msgr. Roy Peters, 81

Advertiser Staff

Peters

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Combat chaplain, parish priest, retired Army colonel Monsignor Roy Peters, a longtime chaplain and retired Army colonel, wore a lot of hats in his 81 years.

A colorful storyteller with a Hemingwayesque turn of phrase, Peters was known for his quick but entertaining sermons and succinct Masses, a skill he learned after years of jumping out of planes with his ceremonial gear to hold services for soldiers in the Vietnamese jungles.

He died July 2 at Tripler Army Medical Center.

As a combat chaplain in Vietnam, he served two tours of front-line combat duty, including one of the most notorious battles of the late 20th century, the Tet offensive. A decorated chaplain, he won six bronze stars; a Purple Heart; three meritorious service medals; a commendation medal and three Legions of Merit.

He always wanted to be a priest. But as a young boy, he'd play ball in the street with his dad. That led to split affinities.

The family story is that when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Peters would say he was going to be "a bishop in the winter and a ball player in the summer," recalled his sister, Marge Ellen Albouze.

Born the eldest of three children Aug. 30, 1924, in Sacramento, Calif., to a nurse-turned-homemaker mother and auditor father, Peters heard a lot about Hawai'i, because his father had been stationed at Schofield Barracks in World War I.

Peters was ordained at age 23 and served in the Sacramento Diocese until 1960, when he volunteered for active duty in the Army. He completed Airborne School in 1962 and served as a "paratrooper padre" in Okinawa, Thailand and Vietnam. He also served as a chaplain at Arlington National Cemetery, commandant at the Army Chaplain School in Forth Monmouth, N.J., and chaplain at Tripler.

After retiring in 1986, he served at churches in Sacramento until 1990, when he came to Honolulu to serve at Sts. Peter and Paul Church.

But those many years in the military never made him hard.

"He was generous," remembered Patrick Downes, spokesman for the Honolulu diocese. "He never said a bad word about anyone."

"He was a fun guy," said his other sister, June Peters. "We were blessed to have him as brother."

He leaves his two sisters.

Visitation will be 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, 800 Kaheka St., followed by a funeral Mass at 7 p.m. Inurnment will follow at a later date in Sacramento, with arrangements by Williams Funeral Service.

His urn will bear the inscription "Aloha and Airborne" in reference to two of his great loves, his sisters said: Hawai'i and his fellow paratroopers.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to the Sts. Peter and Paul building fund or a charity of choice.