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Edward F. Peters Jr., engineer

Edward Peters Jr. had been a Bethlehem Steel engineer.
Edward Peters Jr. had been a Bethlehem Steel engineer.

Edward F. Peters Jr., a retired Bethlehem Steel engineer and decorated Word War II veteran who landed at Normandy, died of congestive heart failure Saturday at Stella Maris Hospice. The longtime Timonium resident was 93.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of the former Edith Foote, a homemaker, and Edward Peters Sr., a Crown Cork and Seal employee. As a child he lived on Dudley Avenue in Northeast Baltimore. He attended the Shrine of the Little Flower School and was a 1941 graduate of Polytechnic Institute.

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He then joined the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River and worked the night shift, where he helped build B-24 bombers.

His son, Glenn E. Peters of Ellicott City, said his father recalled standing on Belair Road on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941.

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"He remembered that someone ran out of a drugstore and yelled, 'The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor,' " his son said. "It wasn't long after that that he enlisted in the Army and was originally slated to be in the 29th Infantry, but he got plucked out at the last minute when someone saw that he had engineering and drafting experience — and reassigned him to the combat engineers."

He was sent to England and was part of the Allied invasion, landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

"He remembered as they exited the landing craft, German prisoners were being loaded on. He said the surf was still pink with blood — something he said he'd never forget," said his son.

Mr. Peters rebuilt bridges in France and was in Paris for its liberation.

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"He remembered marching down the Champs Elysees and under the Arc de Triomphe," said his son.

Mr. Peters also fought in the Battle of the Bulge during the harsh winter of 1944-1945.

"On one cold night, he and a small team were given an assignment to hold a position on a road — they were given a bazooka," his son said. "None of them had ever fired a bazooka, so they thought it might be a good idea to test it. It didn't work. They were engineers. They took it apart, cleaned it and reassembled it, and boom — it fired. Still, he said it was the longest night of his life — aside from nearly freezing to death, he said there is nothing that puts fear in your heart like the sound that a tank makes as it approaches."

Mr. Peters also recalled meeting the popular singer Dinah Shore, who was entertaining troops. A sergeant, he visited Berlin at the end of the war and had his picture taken standing on Hitler's bunker. Accompanying him in the photo is a then-unknown future entertainer, Tad Konopka, who became Ted Knight and appeared as Ted Baxter on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Mr. Peters returned to the U.S. aboard the converted trooper carrier Queen Mary. His son said he brought back a bottle of Champagne, which he never opened.

He attended what was then Loyola College and joined the Bethlehem Steel Co. He continued to work in bridge construction and rose to become a chief draftsman and a chief estimator. He worked at Bethlehem operations in Brooklyn and at the Blaustein Building in downtown Baltimore. He helped design the overpass bridges on the Baltimore Beltway, including the interchange at Interstate 70 in the Woodlawn area. He retired in the mid-1980s.

He also did freelance drafting jobs and after retiring worked in a kitchen rehabilitation business. He used the money from this for his travel. He returned to France in 1994 for the 50th anniversary of the invasion. At that time, he was awarded a medal by the French government.

In retirement, Mr. Peters spent time in Florida, where he fished. He also enthusiastically followed University of Notre Dame football.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Men's Club at the Church of the Nativity in Timonium. He was a church usher and member of the collection ministry. He belonged to the Parkville chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Stella Maris Chapel, 2300 Dulaney Valley Road in Timonium.

In addition to his son, survivors include two daughters, Janice Peters Flower of Annapolis and Lynne Peters Coughlin of Saline, Mich.; two brothers, Robert Peters of Belcamp and T. Wayne Peters of Naples, Fla.; a sister, Doris Nunnally of Parkville; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson. His wife of 62 years, the former Dorothy Connolly, died in 2011.

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