Omaha veteran’s tradition lives on through special coin

As we begin a new year a local tradition is passed from one veteran to another.
Published: Jan. 1, 2021 at 5:51 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As we begin a new year a local tradition is passed from one veteran to another.

And one family believes it’s been keeping our soldiers safe when they’re deployed overseas.

“I wish Pat was here to do this because he does it better than me.”

Pat Peterson found the coin during the Vietnam war while serving as a U.S. marine.

It carried the year he graduated from Holy Name High School in Omaha in 1966.

He came home alive, so it became his lucky coin. Over the years, Pat Peterson transferred that history to others on the verge of being deployed.

“He would give it to them with the stipulation -- they had to bring it back,” said Teresa.

And they did, 7 times the coin has left Nebraska and 7 times it’s come back.

Dave Schoenagle was the last, a 2019 homecoming with family.

“It was an honor to carry the coin. And carry on Pat’s tradition. It pains me a little to give it back,” said Dave.

With Pat Peterson no longer alive, his longtime partner Teresa Burks kept the tradition going.

“He would be so proud. He would love this. Especially going to a dear friend,” said Teresa.

With the constraints of COVID Teresa passed the coin to long-time friends Bill and Laurie Watson who were headed to see their son, Paul, in Colorado Springs for the holidays.

“I’ve known Paul since he was a baby.”

Days later, it would be a virtual ceremony.

Paul Watson is set to deploy to Afghanistan any day now.

“Honestly Teresa -- this means a lot to me. Vietnam vets were really important to special forces,” said Paul.

This green beret will be the 8th to carry the coin overseas.

“How many places this coin has been is pretty amazing. To keep the tradition going -- this coin has seen a lot of things. If it could talk, it has some good stories,” said Paul.

Teresa wanted to make sure the pandemic didn’t get in the way of the coin.

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