It has been said that World War II was fought by the most remarkable generation ever; Ivan Peacock of Portland is one of those remarkable people.
Peacock entered the military service as many others did by way of draft. Millions of men answered their country's call, and draft quotas were quickly filled. However, Ivan Peacock went in as a conscientious objector.
His family history included Quakers up until the Revolutionary War when an ancestor took up arms and was excommunicated from the church.
As a "CO," he was considered a noncombatant and would not carry a gun in combat. He was at the draft board going through the tests and physical examination and at the end of the day, the officer in charge announced the names of those who were being rejected (4F) and those who were being taken into the service. After an hour or so, he went up to the sergeant and asked him why his name wasn't called. The sergeant looked at the list and said that he wasn't called because his draft board quota was filled. Ivan said he wanted to serve in some capacity, and they took him into another room where a rifle lay unassembled on a table. He was told to put it back together, which he did quickly as he had a knowledge of guns and had used them in the past.
Unbeknownst to him, the minute he touched the gun, he lost his noncombatant status. He was sent to Fort Lee to become a combat medic attached to an engineering battalion. He was stationed in Australia for training in a rear area combat hospital. He spent a year and a half in New Guinea before going into combat in the Philippines at Leyte Gulf.
During this combat operation, he was on a "first awaiting going ashore" list when a kamikaze dive bomber dropped a bomb on the ship and it landed just a few feet from him — but it didn't go off; it was a dud. He only suffered minor injuries from flying debris from the bomb hitting the ship.
Later on when they were making their way to shore, another kamikaze dive bomber started strafing them in their landing craft, but it was shot down by gunfire by a destroyer cruising in the area. He suffered no injuries during the landing but was not allowed to go into battle because of his old "CO" rating.
He said he thought God was looking out for him that day. He was later assigned to a rear area headquarters command where they took care of the general.
When asked about Peacock's character of service, his commander said that he was the most faithful soldier he had.
After the war, he spent many years as a missionary serving the underprivileged in countries around the world as his life of service to others continued. Now he continues his life of service to his country and is still in uniform — not the Army uniform but the Air Force uniform as the chaplain for the Sumner County Cadet Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.
Ivan Peacock is much loved by his squadron and those he comes in contact with. He may have only been a private but now he is a lieutenant colonel. While the rank may be ceremonial, it is still a remarkable achievement since he joined the CAP a mere 10 years ago.
As commander of the Sumner County Civil Air Patrol, it is an honor to serve with him and to see him in action doing what he does best — working with the cadets and teaching them about duty to God, country and fellow man.