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Rotary honors WWII vets

By Kay S. Pedrotti A World War II veteran who is Georgia’s commissioner of the Department of Veterans Services was the featured speaker Tuesday at a Barnesville Rotary Club tribute luncheon honoring 58 WWII vets from this area. Pete Wheeler, who has served under 12 Georgia governors, also was co-chair of the committee for the National WWII Memorial Advisory Board in Washington, D.C. A University of Georgia graduate, he will be the main speaker in a program including a bagpipe processional, prayers and patriotic music. Barnesville Mayor Peter Banks will present a proclamation designating Oct. 23 as Veterans Day in Barnesville. Phillip Bell, president of the Barnesville Rotary Club, said, ‘Rotary began our tributes to local World War II vets with the Honor Flight to Washington three years ago. This continues our tradition of honoring WWII vets in some way every fall. It’s a great privilege to be able to do programs like this, to thank them for their service and to tell them they’re greatly appreciated.’ The Lamar County Comprehensive High School Junior ROTC presented the colors to begin the program. Wheeler, 91, served in the U.S. Army Infantry from 1942-46. He continued his service in the Georgia Army National Guard until 1978, when he retired as a brigadier general. Since 1954 Wheeler has been the Georgia chairman of the National Veterans Day Committee. ABOUT PETE WHEELER: Pete Wheeler, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service, will be one of the keynote speakers today as the Rotary Club honors 53 local World War II veterans. Wheeler is an attorney and has been admitted to practice before all state and federal courts. The State Bar of Georgia honored him with a certificate of accomplishment, commemorating the completion of more than 50 years of service as a member. He graduated from the University of Georgia and is past president of the National Association of the State Directors of Veterans Affairs. A veteran himself, Wheeler served in the Army Infantry between 1942-46 and continued to serve in the Georgia Army National Guard until July 1978 when he retired as a brigadier general. He was a member of the U.S. Veterans Advisory Commission. He has served Georgia under 12 governors. Since 1954, Wheeler has served as Georgia Chairman of the National Veterans Day Committee. He was appointed as chairman of the National WWII Memorial Advisory Board by the President of the U.S. and actively served in that capacity until the dedication of the memorial in May 2004. During his career he has received the Silver Helmet Award, presented by AMVETS; Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge George Washington Honor Medal, American Legion Gold Honor Medal, Veterans of Foreign Wars Silver and Gold Medals of Merit, Patrick Henry Award presented by the National Guard Association of the United States; National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs Lifetime Achievement Award and the Atlanta USO’s Patriot of the Year Award for 2011. He was honored with Play it Again Pete, an annual golf tournament sponsored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart National Service Foundation to raise money for the Atlanta VA Medical Center’s Homeless Veterans Program.

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