The first time I met Peterson, he was with my brother Eric L. Smith as the two were both in the Scout Platoon. At this time I had been in the Army and out of Basic Training and AIT for about 6 months. The first thing that caught my eye about the tall, lanky CPL was the amassing “Tower of Power” on his uniform; at a minimum, I believe he already had a Screaming Eagle 101st Airborne combat patch, CIB, Airborne and Air Assault wings.
After a quick introduction, I had learned he had served in Dessert Storm, which was the whole reason most of my cohort had joined the Army. Since I have roots to Washington State, I also found him instantly more interesting learning he was born and raised there. In fact, he was from the very town that I would later live and graduate college in after leaving the Army from Ft. Lewis; Ellensburg, WA.
As I just mentioned, T. Walker Peterson was born and raised in Washington State. Growing up in a small College town, he grew to enjoy spending lots of time in the outdoors. From Cross Country skiing to mountain biking, he spent most of his youth outside. After high school in 1988, he joined the United States Army as an Infantryman. His first duty assignment was Fort Drum NY.
As a COHORT refill, he was one of two Privates in the Platoon. He was a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), M60 Assistant Gunner, and Team Leader while he was in B Co 2-22 Infantry. In 1990, he would PCS to Ft Carson where he was a Team Leader with D CO 1-8 Infantry. In January 1991 he volunteered with 20 other Soldiers for a deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm. During Desert Storm he was assigned to C co 7-101st Aviation as a CH-47 Door Gunner. He would then take an early out option in December of 1991 while Smith and I were in Basic Training.
Peterson returned to the college town he had grown up in, and attended school at my alma mater where he would join the ROTC program, while serving as a member of the Washington State National Guard. He was a member of the Rifle Team, where he won the Excellence in Competition Match at the National Guard Championships.
None of this was enough to keep him interested, so in October 1992, Peterson reenlisted, drove to FT. Drum, and was assigned to 1-87 Infantry. When he arrived, he informed the 1SG that he would be joining the scout platoon. During the PT test to get into Scout Platoon, Peterson easily secured his spot, running his 2 mile run in under 10 minutes.
In December 1992, Peterson and the Scouts were attached to 2-87 IN, along with A CO 1-87, and was deployed to Somalia on 12 December 1992 to kick off Operation Restore Hope where he would be among the first 10th Mountain Division soldiers to earn the highly coveted Combat Infantryman Badge, outside Mundun, Somalia (near Barawe). During Operation Condor Titan in Kismayo, Somalia, Peterson was involved in several engagements with a variety of enemy combatants (we didn’t pick a side, therefore we became a common enemy for 2-3 warring factions).
In Somalia, the Scouts often kicked off our missions by deploying days in advance and keeping eyes on the objectives, while also setting up Sniper support positions from which to cover our movements while we kicked in doors. During an assault in Afgooye, Somalia in January 1993, our 2nd platoon medic literally stepped on Peterson’s leg during our Air Assault into the town, not realizing the young Scout had been laying there. When the medic asked how long he’d been there, 3 days was the answer. During one Scout mission, they were sent near the Kenyan border to rescue an international group of Doctors. The scouts were a key component to the success of TF 2-87 in Somalia.
After Somalia, Peterson would PCS to Vicenza, Italy and be assigned as a Team Leader with B co 3-325 ABCT “The Legion”, with whom he conducted CSAR for Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown after his plane crashed in Croatia April 1996. By 1997, he was a squad leader with 1-508th Airborne Battalion Combat Team (ABCT) Vicenza Italy where he played Rugby with Italian Team and enjoyed the food and the culture of Italy. In 1998, he returned to Ft. Drum and was assigned as Squad Leader, then Section Sergeant, and finally Platoon Sergeant in C Co.
After PCS’s to Ft Benning in 2000 He ended up at The Basic Combat Training Brigade. In May 2002 he Volunteered and PCS’ed to Kelly Hill A Co 1-15 Infantry and deployed to Kuwait for Operation Desert Spring, where he first started in the Sniper Section in 1-15 INF. Being a student of History he bet his guys they would be in Baghdad no later than Tax Day 2003. He then Deployed to Pakistan for Operation Inspired Gambit. By January 2003, Peterson deployed to Kuwait for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sniper Section Leader 1-15 Infantry during the Invasion into Iraq.
Task Force 1-15 was point for every mission since they had spent so much time training up for the Invasion. Arriving in Baghdad on April 4 they were a couple days off from his bet nine months earlier. With orders for the Old Guard Peterson found himself just changing Battalions on Kelley hill in April 2004 he was the 1-30 Infantry Battalion Operation Sergeant Major and by July was back to S-3 Platoon Sergeant.
Peterson deployed in support of OIF3 January 2005 until January 2006 as the battalion liaison to Brigade and coordinated all air missions, all medvacs and over 200 different fire missions. With Orders to ROTC in New York City,…. Well just PCS to the other side of FT Benning.
On March 7, 2006 Peterson PSC’d to United States Army Sniper School, was assigned as Senior Instructor, and Officer in Charge. Back in Iraq six months later with his old Saw Gunner from Italy now one of his best Instructors JBaggs, Peterson and Jbaggs conducted site surveys of every FOB in Iraq to see what the Sniper Threat was and what units were doing about it at the behest of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. After his testimony at the “Sniper Baiting Trial” in Iraq in 2007, truth hurts. June 2008 he was assigned as Platoon Sergeant and Senior Instructor for Convoy Live fire. His retirement was submitted and was granted March 2009. His 20 years in the Army netted over 48 months in combat (I had 10), 7 surgeries, and a toe badly stubbed on a bed post at the Microtel just off the base at Ft. Drum.
After retirement Peterson has worked as a Gunshot Detection Engineer for a Tech company, as an Independent Contractor for the Department of State, as a Subject Matter Expert for DARPA, Lockheed Martin, Leupold and Stevens and Others. He is currently back in College at the same hometown school( Good enough for Mattis, good enough for me), where is a husband to his lovely wife Melany (who has the voice of an angel).
Purchase Behind the Gun: Poncho’s Last Walk on Amazon today to read about Peterson, and other great soldiers, while learning the truth about what happened in Somalia, before, during and after “Black Hawk Down”. You’ll also re-live the events of October 3rd & 4th through the eyes of the soldier, in a way that has never been told. Proceeds benefit Infidel Inc. and other veteran nonprofits.