Sgt. Maj. Peck officially retires today when he turns 60, marking the end of an era. Peck is the last enlisted Vietnam Veteran still serving in the Tennessee Army National Guard.
“He’s been a great asset to the Guard and he will be missed,” said Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “He brought invaluable experience to the organization that the soldiers have all learned from.”
Peck enlisted in the U.S. Army in February 1970, at age 17. By February 1972, he was operating heavy equipment, building roads, and setting up landing zones as a combat engineer in Vietnam with the 20th Engineer Brigade. He spent 10 years on active duty before joining the Tennessee Army National Guard.
Enlisting in the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in July 1980 at Pigeon Forge, he spent the next 32 years climbing the ranks to become one of the most senior enlisted soldiers in the 278th. In 2003, he became the command sergeant major for the Second Squadron in Kingsport and a year later deployed to Iraq for 18 months as the squadron’s senior non-commissioned officer. Peck returned to Iraq in 2010.
“I’ve seen change in our soldiers and our army,” Peck said. “Our equipment is much better and more reliable and our weapons are more accurate and lethal. We take better care of our soldiers. They wear better equipment for their own protection and we’re all trained in caring for the wounded.”
Peck said he’s been thinking of the impact of putting the uniform away.
“The army has been such a big part of my life and I will miss the association of so many good people I’ve had the pleasure of working and serving with.”
During the ceremony, Peck was awarded the Legion of Merit and the Tennessee Army National Guard Distinguished Service Medal for his service.