Peeper suffered permanent hearing loss after suicidal Japanese pilots landed on his base on Okinawa and threw bombs at the U.S. aircraft. During the same period, kamikaze suicide missions attacked U.S. ships. For a while, he said, “Every night was the Fourth of July.”
The men spent their Honor Flight day sharing memories with other veterans and with their guardians. At the World War II Memorial, they met flights from other states and mingled with tourists, who shook hands and expressed their gratitude. The number of young people who came up to say "thank you" impressed Peeper.
After viewing the WW II memorial, the veterans visited Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, and the memorials to the Korean and Vietnam wars. A dinner the night before, and a rally upon their return, also honored them. On the flight home, each received a mail pouch of thank-you letters from schoolchildren, family, friends and notables.
The three don’t remember experiencing major problems in adjusting to civilian life when they returned to Elwood in late 1945.
“I was just glad to be doing normal things,” said Scott. He got on at Delco Remy, didn't care for it, and quit to farm with his dad. He does remember he once “hit the dirt” when their tractor blew off excess steam.
A year later he went to Purdue on the G.I. Bill, and became an agriculture teacher and a leader in FFA education. He later established the Sellersburg regional branch of Ivy Tech, serving as its chancellor from 1969-1986. Scott has attended 45 reunions of his unit: B Company, First Battalion, Seventh Marines. He had four children with his first wife, Betty. After she died, he married Evangeline; they share several grandchildren.
Peeper came back to Elwood to lay pipe for Marathon Oil. He spent his last 20 working years as a maintenance supervisor for the Elwood school system. He used the G.I. Bill to become a pilot and flew small planes for many years, passing his love of flight to his son, Mark, who became a pilot in the Marines and now flies commercially. Mark and his wife flew in to join Peeper and his son Mike, his guardian, at the WW II Memorial. Joe’s family has a Marine tradition: his three sons and two of his grandsons have been in the Corps.