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Veteran Spotlight: Father Peter Gregory

By Wayne SoaresSpecial to iBerkshires
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was a delightful pleasure to feature the Rev. Peter Gregory, pastor emeritus of St. Charles' Church, in this week's "Veteran Spotlight." 
 
At 82 years of age, the legendary priest possesses endless energy, an extraordinary memory and a wonderful sense of humor. He proudly served his country in the Air Force from 1962 to 1966. 
 
Growing up in Pittsfield, he graduated from the former St. Joseph's High School and then went to the School of St. Philip Neri in Boston, where he studied intensive courses of Latin and Greek, graduating in May 1959. He spent two years at the Society of Jesus' Shadowbrook in Lenox before going into the Air Force "to get sort of a normal life." 
 
He was sent to basic training in February 1962 at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, which he described as "hell on earth." Father Peter's first assignment was at K.I. Sawyer AFB in the frigid upper peninsula of Michigan, where he was involved in a great deal of confidential work. 
 
"The Air Force respected confidentiality and trust of an airman," he recalled. Here he served in the capacity of inventory management specialist, where he was head of supply for all base aircraft. In his spare time, he taught Confraternity of Christian Doctrine to the base's children. He served two years at the air base and made rank of airman second and then first class, which was an unusually swift upward move in rank. 
 
"I had really good leadership," said Father Peter humbly. 
 
When asked about a mentor he didn't hesitate and said, "Maj. Joe Capizzi. He traveled all around to visit me and took a liking to me. Was always there with advice." 
 
The holidays? "Naturally, you missed your family," he said. "You had unlimited calls to family, we had great shows and entertainment. It was an honorable time to be in." 
 
Father Peter was also assigned to the remote Goose Bay, Labrador Military Base in Canada, home of the 95th Bomb/Strategic Air Base Wing and 4082 Strategic Wing, affectionately known as "The Goose."
 
After his discharge, Father Peter went into the seminary to study for the priesthood. His ministry would take him around the globe – one of the many highlights was his selection as pastor at American College in Leuven, Belgium. Here he served five years to English-speaking people in the area. "It was quite an honor," he said. 
 
July 7 of this year will mark his 48th year in the priesthood. I asked him to reflect on that: "I've had a wonderful ministry. Forty-eight years has been a true blessing. I have had some wonderful mentors along the way. My greatest joy has been being able to serve others," he said. 
 
His thoughts on military service? 
 
"I never found jealousy in the service. We worked together as a team," he said. "The Air Force helped you grow. The military was very good to me, supplemented that with good housing and a good military family. Military service is a means to an end, an end that hasn't ended yet. The military groomed me to be the priest I am today."
 
Father Peter Gregory, thank you for your service to our great country.
 

Veteran Spotlight is a column by Wayne Soares that runs twice a month. Soares is a motivational speaker and comedian who has frequently entertained the troops overseas with the USO. To recommend a veteran for Soares' column, write to waynesoares1@gmail.com.

 

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