EXCHANGE: Vietnam veteran won't shy away from a challenge

When he heard the shout “incoming!”, Peter Thomas had the training to get out safely from the burst of Russian rockets fired by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars.

The retired Army 101st and 82nd Airborne command master sergeant is the longtime director of Lincoln’s Challenge Academy.

Obviously, he’s a survivor — four years in Vietnam.

And he’s no quitter, either, with more than 20 years at the Illinois National Guard’s Lincoln’s Challenge Academy — graduating students with “a map for the future.”

In 30 years in the Army, he served as everything from a paratrooper to infantry to mortuary to recruiter.

He served in the Dominican Republic when U.S. military occupation ended a civil war in the mid-1960s.

Thomas, who grew up in South Carolina, was drafted in 1963 and first stationed at Fort Wainwright in Alaska.

After that posting, he signed up for airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga.

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