68-year-old Charlie Peters is taking an eleven hundred mile trip from his home in Owosso, Michigan to Okemah, Oklahoma to pay his first ever visit to his father’s grave. And he’s making the trip in a rather unique way!
When we caught up with Charlie and his two mules, Maddie and Saddie (named after his granddaughters), in West Clarksville, late Monday, they were getting ready to settle in for the night and get new shoes for the mules, before continuing westward the next morning.
Charlie is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam…and says the reason he’s making the trip, other than to pay tribute to his own “veteran” father, is to let all other veterans know they’re appreciated as well. Charlie first got the idea after a visit to an antique store three years ago. Charlie was there to purchase a U.S. Navy commemorative dinner plate, when the young man working in the store asked him if he was a veteran, to which he said “Yes, I was”. The man then ask Charlie if he had gone to Vietnam, and he said “Yes, I did!”.
The man then just handed Charlie the plate, shook his hand, and thanked him for his service. Charlie says that was the first time in 45 years anyone had told him that, so he decided to do something to let OTHER veterans know THEY were appreciated.
“Two Mules and a Vet, Oklahoma Bound. Thank you for your service.” is the message scores of travelers have read on the back of the homemade wagon, also decorated with a U.S. Marine flag and insignias of all branches of the military.
Over 900 miles away from home, with only about 170 miles left to go, Charlie says he doesn’t have any set time schedule. His trip began on May 1st, and he expected it to last three months. Charlie averages around 20 miles a day and thought he may be traveling through Ozark on Wednesday. His estimated daily progress would then place him through Fort Smith around Thursday or Friday.
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UPDATE: Very sad to pass along this report from KDYN Radio… Charles was apparently injured in an accident Wednesday evening (7/24/13) in Ozark. The two mules were killed and Charles was taken by ambulance to Mercy Ozark for treatment of his injuries, believed to be a couple of broken ribs. He did not sustain any life threatening injuries. More at the radio station’s website… http://kdyn.com
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UPDATE: We received the following message from a friend of Charlie Peters this morning (7/25/13)…
“I am a very good friend of the daugther of Charlie Peters. (Carol Peters) You ran a beautiful article on July 22, about Charlie. He is the vet traveling by wagon with 2 beautiful mules, Maddie and Saddie. Charlie was involved in an accident yesterday in Ozark Arkansas where a truck hit the back of the wagon and then the two mules. One mule has died and the other in pretty bad condition. Charlie is hospitalized with broken ribs and as of late yesterday, still trying to locate his belongings. I am praying that out of everyone he met along the way some or all of them will come to his aid. We need prayers and support for this wonderful man who only had roughly 150 miles to reach his destination, Okemah Oklahoma. Please reach out to the community for their support and love. Thank you.”
In response, we have created a “contact form” for anyone wishing to make contact and help the family. All help, of course, will be greatly appreciated!
You can find the contact form here.