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Celebration of Life planned for Herb Peppard of the Devil's Brigade

TRURO, N.S. —

A Celebration of Life will be held July 7 for Truro’s decorated war veteran, Herb Peppard.
Peppard, 98, died June 12 in the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building in Halifax, with his three children at his side. His funeral service coincides with what would have been his 99th birthday.
“We were with him when he passed and he passed peacefully and beautifully and surrounded by his family,” said daughter, Rosalee Peppard-Lockyer, who was there with her sister Lark Hewer and their brother Herb Jr.
“Dad had so many friends,” Peppard-Lockyer said, adding that while many people knew of his greater deeds, the extent of his hometown community mindedness was not as widespread.
“Folks don’t know what he spearheaded,” she said. “Dad was always a great neighbour. He was a great encourager and always looking for the positive and giving positive to people.”
Reby Stewart, a longtime friend who often visited Peppard and other veterans at Camp Hill, also described him in glowing terms.
“He was a family man, he was a proud man,” she said. “He was a man that spoke only good of people.”
The day before his death, Peppard was honoured for his military service by being awarded the title of Field Knight by the Order of St. George.
The Truro native signed on for service in the Second World War in Dec. 12, 1940 at age 20 with the Canadian Artillery. He then transferred to the First Canadian Parachute Battalion and was later recruited to the Canada-USA First Special Service Force (FSSF). The elitely trained, highly decorated and undefeated unit served as the precursor to modern-day special forces.
They were also called the Devil’s Brigade, but to their German enemies, Peppard and his comrades became fearfully known as the Black Devils, because of their stealth and successful captures under darkness.
Following the disbandment of the FSSF in November 1944, Peppard rejoined his original parachute battalion.
During that same year, he was awarded one of America’s highest military honours, the Silver Star (for gallantry in action) and in 2015 he travelled to Washington, where along with 41 other surviving members of the Devil’s Brigade, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian medal that can be awarded by the United States.
Peppard, who rose to the rank of sergeant, also received the USA Bronze Star, for Heroism/Outstanding Achievement.
He served until Sept. 6, 1945 and the summer following his return home (June 10, 1946), he married his Greta (MacPhee).
For a number of years, Peppard worked on the railroad until later establishing a successful electrical construction business. He went on to upgrade his education to a B.A. and B.Ed and taught the trade at the Lunenburg Regional Vocational School in Bridgewater until he retired.
In 1994 Peppard wrote a humourous and heartwarming book called The LightHearted Soldier: A Canadian's Exploits with the Black Devils in WWII.
“He certainly went out the way he lived,” said Wilson MacDonald, a close friend, fellow member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 26 in Truro and commander of the Nova Scotia, Nunavut Command.
“He was quite a guy,” Wilson said. “In my personal opinion, we have lost a great man.”
Peppard was born in the house where he grew up in on Alice Street and where he raised his own family and continued to reside until being transferred to Camp Hill following an injury.
He led an extremely active life and in addition to being a decorated war veteran, was also an author, poet, singer, newspaper columnist, public speaker and former bodybuilder, for which he was inducted into the Colchester Sports Hall of Fame as a provincial pioneer and champion of the sport.
Peppard was also a life member of the Truro legion; founding member and president of the Veterans’ Widows and Widowers Association and he initiated the Veterans Memorial Highway Garden project alongside Highway 102 in Truro Heights.
In June 2016, he was honoured with a ceremony to officially open a public park in his name across the street from his boyhood home on the site of the former Alice Street Elementary school.
Ward 3 Truro councillor and close friend, Cathy Hinton, said despite the many honours Peppard received throughout his lifetime, having his name attached to the park was the most special.
“He loved to see the children playing in the park,” Hinton said. “This is Herb’s legacy, this park.”
Ron Trowsdale, chairman of the Truro legion’s Grave Decorating Committee agreed and likewise spoke highly of his longtime friend.
“Herb was a very special man and a very active man,” he said. “He always wore his uniform (to special events) and was proud it still fit him. He was one of kind in many ways."
His Celebration of Life will be held July 7 at the First United Church, 711 Prince St., at 2 p.m.
Visitation will take place at Mattatall-Varner Funeral Home on July 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. and again from 6 to 8 p.m.

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