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Tales of Valor

Retired veteran turns focus to educating citizens on leadership and management

  • 8 min to read

Nearly half of his life has been dedicated to the service of our nation. Now, William Peppard works to achieve a doctorate in education so that he can teach wisdom, leadership and management to younger citizens.

Peppard is a 47-year-old retired veteran who was born and raised in Fort Lee, N.J. He decided to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps and join the military immediately after graduating high school in 1990.

His father was a Vietnam War veteran who served 22 active years in the U.S. Army and National Guard. His grandfather served in the Army Air Corps and in the Pacific during War World II. Peppard’s grandparents on his mother’s side both served in the British Navy. His grandfather was on battleships on the convoy fleets in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and his grandmother was a firefighter in London during the Battle of London.

“There’s a lot of military history in the family,” Peppard said. “And I’m the oldest of five brothers; we all went into the service.”

Peppard said the opportunities one can achieve from serving in the military and his family’s background in the service are why he made the decision to join.

On Aug. 6, 1990, Peppard went to basic training and infantry school with the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Ga. Following training, he was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii at the Schofield Barracks.

Peppard recalled as he was finishing basic training, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, marking the start of the Gulf War. He said everything changed at training because the U.S. was going to war. Peppard said suddenly there was more emphasis on what was going on in the Middle East and a lot more emphasis on the chemical biological warfare in infantry school. Peppard served for three years in the Army in the Pacific Ocean.

“It was great. We traveled around the Pacific, worked with different countries. Our mission out there was mostly rapid response to Korea, if anything happened in Korea,” he said.

In 1994, Peppard re-enlisted for Military Police School because he knew that he eventually wanted to go into civilian law enforcement. He traveled to Fort McClellan, Ala. where he was enrolled in law enforcement and security training at Military Police School for 13 weeks. From there, he was assigned back to Fort Benning, Ga. as a military policeman. He worked patrol and traffic for about a year on the base. While there, he volunteered to go with the base’s sister unit, the 988th Military Police (MP) Company to Haiti in response to the invasion of Haiti in 1994.

Peppard worked for a little over six months in Haiti as a part of the Operation Uphold Democracy, working with the 10th Mountain Division and Special Forces. He said they conducted law and order operations in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. He explained that they were there for stabilization operations to get the country back on its feet and re-equip and re-train the police force.

“The reason we went there was the Haitian bodies were washing up on the shore of Florida and other places. The country was in turmoil, the dictatorship of General (Raoul) Cédras at the time. And at the time we invaded, Cédras voluntarily left the country. They brought in President (Jean-Bertrand) Aristide,” Peppard recalled.

As they conducted law and order security operations for the city, Peppard said they were responsible for safety so the Haitian citizens respected them. While serving in Port-au-Prince, Peppard remembers observing violence and crime taking place, which caused the 988 MP Company to take over the policing of the area and reestablished the Haitian military police. He remembers when they took over the National Police Headquarters across from the capital palace in the first week of operations. Peppard said they spent the first few weeks establishing base camps and convoy escorts for the lower portion of Haiti, then they conducted police work for the shanty towns all the way up to the mansions on the hill. In Haiti, Peppard was a 22-year-old sergeant running a squad of nine men who were all younger than him.

“People have it rough in other parts the world. You appreciate what you have here,” he said.

Peppard returned to Georgia but shortly after, he left active duty and went into the full-time National Guard where he worked in the Counter Drug Program for two years. He was positioned in Portland, Ore. the first year and then was assign to support the Gang Task Force under the Counter Drug Program. Peppard said they use military assets to support local law enforcement and he helped with drug and gang investigations. The second year he worked for a Drug Regional Intelligence Center based in downtown Manhattan. In this role he supported intelligence operations for state, local and federal law enforcement for narcotics, money laundering, gangs and organized crime.

Peppard explained he still planned to go into civilian law enforcement, so he was going to school at night for his degrees. He found his positions in both Oregon and New York as great networking opportunities with different agencies learning the components of investigations.

Next, he was hired as a county officer with the Bergen County Police Department in his hometown county. He joined the Air Force Reserve out of the McGuire Air Base in New Jersey and worked in security forces supporting the active duty.

Then, Sept. 11, 2001 happened. Peppard was on day shift as a county officer only 5 miles from the World Trade Center when the first plane attack occurred. He was immediately assigned to assist with backfilling the Port Authority of New York and shutting down the George Washington Bridge after the attack.

“Nobody ever sees the George Washington Bridge shut down. We provided convoy escorts for the first responders, the construction workers, the cranes. Up and down from the George Washington Bridge to lower Manhattan to the site. To the pile,” Peppard recalled.

He said the Port Authority police went downtown because the World Trade Center was part of their jurisdiction and they were also responsible for the bridges. As they started rescue operations to the World Trade Center, the county officers secured the bridge and escorted first responders and equipment down the westside highway into the city.

“They went downtown thinking it was an accident. We were there to backfill them for bridge operations. When the second plane hit, we were notified it became a terrorist attack so we had to shut down the bridge and tunnel and divert all that traffic. It’s a quarter million commuters every day. You couldn’t go into or out of New York City at the time,” he said. “Some of those Port Authority officers didn’t come back that day.”

Peppard’s wedding was scheduled just after the attack and he married his wife, Alyssa Peppard, on Sept. 22, 2001. Hardly a week after his wedding, on Oct. 1, he was mobilized to serve 13 months in Homeland Security domestic operation missions for the Air Force Reserve out of McGuire Air Force Base

“It was a fun first year of marriage,” he joked.

He said he was fortunate to see his wife every few weeks. Peppard completed force protection for the area, conducting security operations, commercial vehicle inspections and base security for the region. He said it was busy and high tempo. He remembers bases were completely shut down and they had to secure additional manpower for ongoing threats of terrorism.

Once he was demobilized, he went back and worked as a police officer for about year in his home county. He said that was when his fellow officer comrades talked him into joining the Navy Reserve in 2003. Peppard worked base security for the Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey part-time as a reserve. Then, he volunteered for deployment with Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) for service overseas.

In 2005, he was assigned to a Naval Criminal Investigation Team out of Fallujah, Baghdad. For nearly a year, he worked criminal cases, counterterrorism cases, and counter surveillance intelligence cases with military and federal investigators all over Iraq.


William Peppard serving in Iraq

Peppard said he worked for six weeks undercover in what’s called a “shallow undercover assignment” near the Bagdad International Airport. He worked on a weapon smuggling case against a Marine sergeant that was smuggling weapons he’d buy in the black market back into the U.S. Peppard said his job was to become his friend, observe and confirm what he was doing with the weapons near the Baghdad airport.

Since Peppard had served as a certified medical legal death investigator during his time as a county police officer, he was assigned to utilize these skills in Iraq with Marine Criminal Investigation Division. He worked a marine suicide in Fallujah and also assisted with a high-profile murder Grand Jury case involving a Marine that served in Mahmoudiyah, the “Triangle of Death” in Baghdad.

Peppard was assigned to assist with locating the remains of two civilians that had been killed to serve as evidence in the case. He was embedded in Mahmoudiyah with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) in a base camp at an old chicken factory. He said he’s spoken to people in the mosques and most of the people in the area knew why were they were there. Peppard recalled a few times the team he was working with were concerned of attacks due to the seriousness of the operations they were conducting.

Fortunately, they completed the investigation without incident. But, Peppard said the case was dismissed and charges were dropped before the evidence from Mahmoudiyah was presented to the Grand Jury.

Outside of that investigation, he worked with protection details for agents and worked with Marines to train Iraqi police. He said as they assisted with the hiring process. Peppard said they would assist investigators if any applicant’s DNA flagged evidence associated with bomb making. He said that unit and their process may have saved troops lives.

When he came back from Iraq, Peppard served for a year in Annapolis as a reservist on security boats working special events and Harbor Patrol. Then he left the military again.

Later on a friend talked him into joining back up with the Air National Guard. At that time he had completed 15 years of military service and decided complete five more years to earn retirement.

Peppard went into the Air National Guard but didn’t want to do security anymore, so he went into the Emergency Management career field. This position was to assist the Air Force in managing the Emergency Operations Center, assisting with disasters or attacks. Peppard explained he was also trained as a chemical, biological radiological, nuclear (CBRN) specialist. Wearing a special HazMat suit, his main role in this position was to train individuals before overseas deployment on how to use their protection gear in the event of a chemical attack. Peppard also supported domestic security operations in the area. After nine years of service between the McGuire Air Force Base and Steward Air Force Base in New York, he retired in February 2017.

This concluded Peppard’s 27 years of service to the U.S. In July 2018, he retired as a senior detective with 20 years of service to the Bergen Police Department.

Following a long weekend trip to Charleston with his wife 12 years earlier, Peppard was finally going to retire and move to one of the top places listed as his desired retirement destinations.

He said they’d continued to visit Charleston each year since they first visited and fell in love with the area. He and his wife are celebrating 19 years of marriage and have three children. Alyssa moved to Mount Pleasant with their children a year ahead of his retirement so their oldest son could enroll as a freshman at Wando High School. Now their children attend school at Wando High School, Cairo Middle School and Carolina Park Elementary. The Peppard family attends the Greek Orthodox Church of The Holy Trinity downtown Charleston.

When Peppard first joined his family in Mount Pleasant in August 2018, he accepted a position as the Captain of the College Charleston Campus Police. He held the position at the college for a year and now Peppard works as an instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in North Charleston. He teaches leadership and management courses and field interviews TSA employees for TSA officers.

Throughout his service in the military, Peppard attended night school and holds a bachelor’s degree, three master’s degrees and is working on his doctorate in education from Liberty University. His three master’s degrees in organizational leadership, administrative science and project management were all paid for by the GI Bill, according to Peppard.

Upon moving here, Peppard joined the American Legion Moultrie Post 136 and the VFW Post 10624. He initially joined as a life member at his father and grandfather’s VFW in New Jersey and then transferred his membership here.

peppard vfw peeps

Moultrie Post 136 at the MPCC Business Expo in September 2019. Pictured (from left) are Bill Ferguson, Art Horn, Bill Peppard and Jim Riggins.

“Here with the VFW, American Legion or any veteran or any nonprofit organization, people should get out there and get involved with the community, whether for wherever cause they may be. Veterans, the elderly, animals just find something and give back,” Peppard said. “There are so many programs between the veterans, Meals on Wheels and the charitable groups in Mount Pleasant and the Charleston Metro Area.”

Peppard serves as the vice-commander for Moultrie Post 136, the adjunct of VFW Post 10624 and vice-president of the Tupelo Home Owner’s Association in Mount Pleasant.

Peppard’s four brothers are veterans and several times throughout their deployments the brothers were positioned in the same place. He said that the overlapping of their service was always exciting whether in Haiti, the Middle East, New York, Cuba or Iraq.

He said that he and his brothers all learned discipline and wisdom from their service. Peppard said that his children can choose whether they want to join the military, so long as they are giving back to the community.

“We were always taught service in my family. Service to the country or service to the community. That’s what I try to pass on to my kids, is no matter what they do, they should do something for others,” he said.