By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Peggy Lutz named veteran of year

Lutz grew up in Portland and earned a teaching degree at Linfield College. She taught English in Myrtle Point before for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

After taking the US Naval Reserve exam in Portland, she was one of five recruits, from a field of 1,680, chosen for air traffic control school — something not open to officers. “I could give orders to those with higher rank, like, ‘You’re cleared to land,’” she joked in a 2011 News-Register interview.

She trained in Georgia, going through the same classes and drills as the male recruits, and returned to Oregon for duty. She served at the Klamath Falls air base for a short time, then was transferred to the base at Tongue Point, near Astoria.

About 60 WAVES were stationed there, along with hundreds of men. The facility served as a training center for squadrons of TBM Avengers, F6F Hellcat fighters and other planes.

“I learned so much in the military,” said Lutz, who returned to teaching after leaving the WAVES. “It grew me up. It helped me have respect for authority, respect for our country, respect for those who do what’s right.”

Today, Lutz participates in many programs for veterans. She is a regular at the annual event that brings veterans to speak to high school students at the Evergreen Space Museum, for example.

She is a passionate advocate for the Honor Flight of Oregon, which flies veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the national memorials. After participating in an honor flight herself, she became the local contact and a state board member for the program.

She raises funds to send more vets. Last fall, she organized a welcome home event for five WWII vets who made the trip.

Lutz helped start a local discussion group for women veterans. She has also written two memoirs about her service, “Never Salute With A Broken Garter” and “It’s Hard to Salute Standing in a Wall Locker: a Collection of WWII Memories.”

In addition to working with veterans issues, the retired educator runs a support group for people who are caregivers for seriously ill relatives. The caregivers’ support group meets Tuesday afternoons at the McMinnville Senior Center.

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