Fallen Claremore soldier receives honorary degree from Rogers State University
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, May 06, 2012
5/06/12 at 7:47 AM
Read more tributes to
Oklahoma soldiers who
have died in the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
CLAREMORE - A graduation ceremony is normally a time to look ahead, but for the family of Oklahoma Army National Guard Sgt. Anthony Delmar Peterson, Saturday was a day to look back on a remarkable life.
Rogers State University conferred a posthumous degree on Saturday to Peterson, who was killed Aug. 4 at the age of 24 when he was hit with small-arms fire while on a dismounted patrol in Paktia province, Afghanistan.
Peterson had completed 71 credit hours at RSU at the time of his death.
He also was active in organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, and participated in other service-oriented activities.
"We are very grateful to the university," said his father, Garth Peterson, of the associate degree in liberal arts awarded to his son. "It's an awesome thing for them to honor him and his service."
Anthony Peterson was attached to Vinita's Company B, with the 1st Battalion of the 279th Infantry Regiment of the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade.
He had previously served in Afghanistan in 2006-07.
Garth Peterson said Anthony "surrendered his life to Christ" after that first tour of duty and would often reach out to people in need.
Mindy Sager, an aunt of Anthony's, said her nephew didn't talk much about what he experienced in Afghanistan, but "seeing what he saw, his faith grew."
Terra Peterson, Anthony's mother, said her son was also a dedicated father who was "inseparable" from his son Dakota, now 6 years old. The couple said Dakota already has a lot of the same personality traits of his father.
Sager lives in Chelsea, where Anthony graduated from high school in 2005. She said her nephew had a playful and fun side but also took his devotion to his faith and his allegiance to his country very seriously.
The Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the NATO medal, the Global War on Terrorism medal, the Afghan campaign ribbon and the Oklahoma Distinguished Service medal were among the military honors Anthony Peterson received.
"This is a beautiful tribute," Sager said of the degree awarded to her nephew on Saturday.
"I'm glad they're doing it. They're showing him a lot of respect. He's a hero."
The Petersons said that the idea got its start after the couple informed the university of their son's death.
The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, the governing board for RSU, approved the awarding of the degree.
The school was honored to recognize the "achievement and the contribution he made to the university," RSU President Larry Rice said. "Anthony served as a positive influence on our campus and in our community."
While the parking lot outside the Claremore Expo Center was filled with excited students getting ready for the graduation ceremony, Terra Peterson said there was part of her on Saturday waiting for Anthony to walk up to the building wearing a cap and gown.
Said Garth Peterson of losing a child: "I don't think you can compare anything."
Yet, they both said their faith sustains them.
"We believe that Anthony's not dead," Garth said. "He's just changed locations."
Sager shares that belief.
"It's comforting to us as Christians that we know we will see him again," she said.
Original Print Headline: Honors class
David Harper 918-581-8359
Sgt. Anthony Peterson, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2011, was awarded an associate degree posthumously on Saturday from Rogers State University. RSU President Larry Rice presents the degree to Peterson's mother, Terra Peterson of Owasso. BRANDI SIMONS / for the Tulsa World
Anthony Peterson: The Oklahoma Army National Guardsman was killed Aug. 4 at the age of 24. Peterson had completed 71 credit hours at RSU at the time of his death.