Dallas Webster Peden Jr., formerly a member of the U.S. Air Defense Forces, lounges in his room at the Kansas Veterans Home. Peden Jr. worked with the Night Hercules from 1963-1965. (Angel Vadillo/Collegian photographer)

By Angel Vadillo
Staff reporter

Dallas Webster Peden Jr. is an U.S. Army veteran living in the Kansas Veterans Home in Winfield. Born in Cleveland in 1940, Peden was drafted to serve in the armed forces. He served in the U.S. Army in the branch of air defense.

Serving from August 1963 to August 1965, Peden has had many experiences and traveled to many places. Peden said that inside the armed forces, a lot of things happen that people are not aware of.

First, he completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. After his basic training, he moved to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He made and repaired tools like airplanes and submarines. After working in El Paso, the military sent him to Germany.

“I remember shooting a missile and we almost got the plane,” Peden said. He was working in Germany with Air Defense Missiles with a team known as the Night Hercules. Peden said, “It was nice being in Germany, since I am half German. I wanted to learn German, but the kids there wanted to learn English.”

Leaving Germany, he returned to the United States and his next stop was Fort Sill, Okla. While there, he broke his left leg. Because of this, he had to get out of the armed forces. He finally left the forces in August 1965.

It was a tough air defense life. Peden was promoted from Private First Class to the rank of sergeant. He was missile man as a radar operator. He was in the Armed Forces when he was young and it did not have a great impact on his life. “Gone for two years and coming back home, not married and single, so really no impact,” he said. Two years after his service, Peden got married in 1967. Peden has six children from two different marriages, one daughter from his first marriage and from his second marriage, he has five children. His youngest child is 18. His oldest is in the Army Reserve.

“Veterans Day is a special day, remembering guys from World War II. I don’t like the way they treat the Vietnam Veterans. I believe the Unites States is the greatest and most stupid thing in the world,” Peden said, “I believe in defending the country.”

Peden moved to the Veterans Home in June 2011. His family lives in Kansas. He would like to go back to Germany where he served because he said it is a lot like here.

“I remember when we were in Fort Bliss and President John Kennedy was shot,” Peden said in a deep tone. Another memorable experience he had was when he was in Germany and he almost shot down a plane.

Pedn was a tool maker for 55 years. “I have made tools for virtually everything,” he said. To some the armed forces may sound scary, and to some others it is a privilege to serve the country. For Peden, being in the U.S. Air Defense Forces was important. “I enjoyed being there. To me, it was a big game. It was fun and interesting,” Peden said with a big smile on his face.

Angel Vadillo is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at angel.vadillo@sckans.edu.