By DAN WHITTLE, Courier Correspondent
Arthur O. Petty Jr. will be a featured honoree in Friday's annual Woodbury community salute to military veterans at Cannon County High School.
What's remarkable about that?
Marine Sergeant Major Petty has "survived" three major U.S. wars ... starting with WW II in the 1940s, being called back to active duty during Korea in the 1950s, and in 1965, the Marine landed in Chu-Lai Vietnam.
At age 93, Sergeant Major Petty can still fit in his "Marine Dress Blue" uniform that will be his attire at the Nov. 7 Veteran's Day Celebration.
"Our community is honored to have Art Petty ... a bona fide American hero who has shaken the hands of multiple U.S. presidents, thanking him for his remarkable survival and service to country," described Charlie Harrell, a fellow veteran and Cannon County resident. "He shouldn't be alive, having defied all odds of survival in three different wars."
If school groups want to march back through time with the highly-decorated Marine, it's no problem.
"Sergeant Major Art Petty has converted an old milking barn on his farm into a museum that contains medals, memorabilia from all over the world, including captured flags from surrendering Japanese at Saipan," added Harrell. "And there's no way you can tell that his museum is a converted milk barn, he pays that much attention to detail in his museum."
On June 15, 1944, the sergeant major made the Marine landing on Saipan.
"Our objective was to take the city of Garapan. Once completed, we moved inland," the Marine marched back through multiple wars.
Unique world military history was observed by Sergeant Major Petty, when Japanese Capt. Sakae Oba surrendered on Dec. 1, 1946, with 46-armed Japanese soldiers.
"That was 18 months after the Japanese Army had officially surrendered," Sgt/M Petty confirmed. "Captain Oba had successfully led his medical unit through the jungle, avoiding surrender."
More than 40 years later after being there for Japanese Capt. Oba's WW II-ending surrender a year and half after the rest of Japan's Army had been defeated, Petty "met and conversed with former enemy Japanese Captain Oba in Orlando, Fla."
Sgt/M Petty's milk barn/converted museum contains hundreds of books, films and former top secret wartime documents, including the movie and books written about Japanese Captain Oba.
Petty saw death and experienced danger up close and personal on April 1, 1945, at Okinawa.
"The Japanese Kamikaze planes came in and crashed into the LST craft I was on," the Marine noted. "It blew one Marine and a Sailor overboard. The second plane came in, hitting the next LST in the bow, setting it ablaze. All hands abandoned ship. The third plane came in and hit the Hinsdale (U.S. ship) above and below the water line, causing it to list heavily over on its side."
The vessel Sgt/M Petty was on only had one big hole aft.
"So, we were able to go over and take the Marines off the Hinsdale," the retired Marine accounted.
As a Marine, he served in five of the six Marine Divisions during three wars.
"I have met and shaken hands with two Presidents of the United States," added Sgt/M Petty.
But one of the best days of his life came on April 5, 1946, when he wed Marjie Finley.
"Marjie is a better woman than I have been as a man," the veteran Marine graded his wife and life. "We have two children, Jeanne and Marsha."
Asked his opinion of America's on-going wartime activity in the Middle East, he voiced concern.
"It's a religious war," Sgt/M Petty confirmed. "That worries me."