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WWII and Korean War Vet's Scholarship In His Name
by Michael Maddox, U.S. Army Cadet Command (Army ROTC)
July 13, 2021

It’s been many years since Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oren Lee Peters has served his country in uniform, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing what he can to support the U.S. Army and the Soldiers who make up the ranks. Peters, who recently turned 100 years old, established a scholarship in his name for students in the University of Central Oklahoma ROTC program last year.

Cadet Zachary Nemecek, a junior at UCO, was the first recipient of the scholarship ... receiving the scholarship and meeting Peters on June 7, 2021.

Cadet Zachary Nemecek, left, and Lt. Col. (R) Oren Lee Peters stand beside the scholarship plaque with Cadet Namecek pointing at his name as the first recipient of Peters's scholarship during an event at the University of Central Oklahoma on June 7, 2021. Peters set up the scholarship program last year to support ROTC cadets, because of the impact he feels they will provide for the country. (Photo by KT King with UCO Photo Services)
Cadet Zachary Nemecek, left, and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oren Lee Peters stand beside the scholarship plaque with Cadet Namecek pointing at his name as the first recipient of Peters's scholarship during an event at the University of Central Oklahoma on June 7, 2021. Peters set up the scholarship program last year to support ROTC cadets, because of the impact he feels they will provide for the country. (Photo by KT King with UCO Photo Services)

This is the second scholarship program Peters, who is a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, has sponsored.

Previously he had started an endowment in honor of his wife, Lucile, in the Edmond Public School District. She was a math teacher for over 40 years and he wanted to honor her career, so he started a scholarship for teachers that, throughout their career, focused on empowering students to remain in a mathematical field.

Later, Peters wanted to start another endowment program and he thought about the ROTC students that he knew, the impact they would have for the country, and decided to set up a scholarship program for them.

Peters has a connection to ROTC going back to early in his Army career.

“As a second lieutenant in WWII, I received a battlefield commission but I refused to sign the oath of office because I knew that would mean I could not come home,” he said. “So I came home from the war at the age of 19, returned to school, joined the ROTC and received my commission at a later date.”

Besides being awarded the scholarship. Nemecek was able to spend some time talking to Peters.

“He told me I looked like a fine young man and he was impressed I was able to win his scholarship over my senior peers,” he shared. “He also told me that I am welcome to come visit his house and he will show his memorabilia and tell me stories of his time with the 45th Infantry in WWII. That is what I am most excited about because there is so much that can be learned from him.”

The scholarship, which was established by Peters in June 2020, provides $1,000 for ROTC cadets at UCO.

Peters, who has spent much of his life donating time to volunteering, had this advice for Cadets.

“Volunteering is the one thing that you must do to give back and/or further your career. Volunteer for different positions or tasks and do the best you can with any assignment given to you,” he said. “Ask questions and work hard, because you can't do a job by looking at it and only thinking about it. You do the job because you work at it day in and out, learn it, perfect it and teach it to others.”

Army ROTC produces approximately 70 percent of the officers entering the Army each year and is available through nearly 1,000 college campuses nationwide like Harvard, Berkley, Tufts, and Ohio State. Army ROTC teaches leadership and discipline, management techniques, cultural awareness and problem solving.

Those who participate in Army ROTC and subsequently serve as Army officers develop leadership and managerial skills that last a lifetime.

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