The obituary for George “Tony” Peters almost writes itself, though the first line from his online obit might be the most important: “I am a Marine, I died a Marine, I’m proud I served my country.”

For all his time in professional wrestling, though never as a major star, little compares to his time in the Marines.

Peters did two tours of Vietnam with 11th Engineer Battalion as a combat engineer and equipment operator, and another tour with Mag 39, where he flew as a combat door gunner with HMM 161 and HMM 262.

He was wounded on four occasions in Vietnam, including his helicopter being shot down twice where he was the combat gunner.

For his service, Peters earned four Purple Heart medals, good conduct medal, national defense medal, Vietnamese service medal, Vietnamese Campaign medal, three combat air medals, three strike combat air wings, Presidential unit citation medal, plus meritorious unit citation medal with combat V, combat service medal, plus other citations.

A nephew, David Powers, posted a tribute on Facebook:

“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” General Douglas MacArthur
As old soldiers do, my Uncle Tony faded away this week.
He served several tours in Vietnam as a United States Marine, and came home with some extra metal in his body and three Purple Hearts.
He and I even worked the same mud at Courthouse Bay (Camp Lejeune) in an engineer detachment about two decades apart.
Rest in piece Devildog. Semper fidelis.

Born September 4, 1948, to Stella Peters and Elder Fred A. Peters, and raised in Scott County, Tennessee, Kingsport was his home for most of his life. Peters attended Gate City High School, joining the Marine Corps at age 17.

A life-long wrestling fan, upon his return to Tennessee, Peters befriended the brother tag team of Ron and Don Wright. The Wright boys took him under their wing, and taught him to wrestle.

Ron Wright and Tony Peters

Ron Wright and Tony Peters

From 1973 to 1982, Peters was on many cards around Tennessee, though not on many outside the state.

The Kayfabememories website recounted his time in the breakaway ICW promotion run by the Poffo family:

Tony will be remembered by many fans of Southeastern as a tall, rotund, bald jobber to the stars. In the early days of ICW, however, he actually held a couple of belts. He defeated Bob Roop for the Southeastern title, which he later lost to Ronnie Garvin. He also was a tag team champion, teaming with (I think) Bob Orton Jr. After ICW expanded he returned to his old jobber status, although he wasn’t squashed like he was in Southeastern. I remember him being competitive in a match with Crusher Broomfield; I believe Crusher even juiced. Since I never saw ICW when he was being pushed, I never heard him talk on television. He continued to appear on local shows in Tennessee after ICW, but I never saw him on TV again. I do remember him dressing as Daddy Warbucks and appearing in a local newspaper with the winner of a Little Orphan Annie look-alike contest.

Veteran wrestler Jeff Tankersley paid tribute to Peters on Facebook: “RIP Tony Peters thank you for all of the advice you gave me through the years! What stories you could tell. You will definitely be missed.”

A Tony Peters clipping  for Kingsport, Tennessee, on January 22, 1975.

A Tony Peters clipping for Kingsport, Tennessee, on January 22, 1975.

Alongside Ron and Don Wright, “Big” Tony Peters was inducted into a local Tennessee Wrestling Hall of Fame in April 2013 at Elizabethton High School.

In March 1999, Peters committed to Jesus Christ, and began a life traveling and singing gospel music. In a dated website, Peters talked about the music: “Love singing the old traditional gospel, and Southern gospel. I have over twenty CD’s for sale, and tapes. I always go on faith, never charging anyone to sing or preach the word of God.”

Tony Peters

Tony Peters

When Peters was ordained at Speers Ferry Church, he truly followed in the footsteps of his father, Fred A. Peters, who his son said was “an old preacher man for thirty eight years, walking and hitchhiking all around to preach the word of god. I’m proud to take up his banner.”

Peters died on August 16, 2023. Details on cause of death are unclear, and recent online photos show him in a motorized scooter.

The graveside services for Tony Peters will be conducted on Monday, August 21, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. at Oak Hill Memorial Park, in Kingsport, with Dr. Vic Young officiating. Military honors will be presented by The American Legion Posts 3/265.

Peters is survived by his wife, Kathy Peters; daughter, Sonya Peters and boyfriend, Tommy Berry; son, Randy Peters and wife Sandi; granddaughter, Alicia; brother, Earl Peters and wife Karen and their children, Tara, Tabby, Tanner and Zoe; and his fur babies, Lucky and Chloe.