Students recall beloved Colonel

Liana Ariza, Cover Story Editor

Lt. Col. Kelly McPeters was a joyful and humble man with a big heart for many.

While many had the great pleasure of getting to know Col. McPeters and experience great times with him, those opportunities are now gone. 

Sadly, Col. McPeters suffered from a “massive bleeding stroke” March 10, according to his wife and “best girlfriend ever” Lt. Robin McPeters. He passed away the night of Wednesday, March 13.

“He was a very joyful, humble man with great stories and a big heart,” said Sergeant Russell Forsee, AFJROTC instructor.

He left many great memories with the students and staff who have had the pleasure of interacting with him.

             “My favorite memory would be two years ago when we helped him clean his office; Pretty much the whole AFJROTC room. It was during the summer. He had music playing; we were all singing music. It was all pretty fun,” said Brendon Munoz senior deputy troop commander in ROTC.               Forsee adds, “My favorite memory is when he would dance to CNN 10 theme music and sing the Air Force song with all the cadets.”

             On Wednesday, March 20, ROTC held a “Wear Air Force Blue Day” for all students  and staff as one way to honor him.

        In the afternoon of the same day, a memorial for Col. McPeters was held at 2:30 p.m in the theater. All the AFJROTC cadets stood in the back as the ceremony proceeded.

        Junior Amairani Romero Vera led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.        Principal Steven Ybarra, Chemistry teacher Steve Oster and Group CommanderGeorge Garcia all gave remembrance speeches. 

Chief Master Sgt. Chase Smith, group superintendent and senior, read Col. McPeters’ biography.

At the ceremony, there was a ceremonial flag folding performed by seniors Christian Manoa, delta flight commander,  and George Garcia, while senior Valeria Ramirez, director of operations,  talked about about the history and meaning of the American flag.

Everyone in ROTC has been supportive and they make sure that they are there for one another.

“One thing I would like to say is how supportive the cadets have been with each other and me during this time. One of the best things that has happened out of this was at the end of the day a cadet asked if I needed a hug and she hugged me. Then all the cadets came in and we all had a great big huge hug, “said Forsee.

“You could just feel the healing going on in that moment. It was a lot of Lion love going on and it was a special moment to send him off that way,” he said.

All the people who’ve had the chance to meet the colonel got to know how much of a great person he was.“He is the most kind person that I ever met; he is very humble. He is a person who lives by the Air Force creed which is integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all he does,” said Oster.

Oster and Col.  McPeters became close after Oster helped Col. McPeters out with an incident and their friendship thrived ever since.

“We’ve been really good friends because he would come and talk to me and I’d go down to the ROTC room and talk to him and we both started to really appreciate each other’s company… we would make sure we would sit together at lunches, various events and meetings,” said Oster.

Col. McPeters was the type of man that students just loved and he made people’s days better.

“There were kids who would come to him daily just to say ‘hi’to him. They couldn’t start their day without coming in to say ‘hi’ to him and that’s the kind of effect the man had. He was well loved by everybody,” said Oster.

People enjoyed the conversations they had with him because he always made them laugh.

“My favorite memory are all the conversations we had because every time we were in a faculty meeting and he’d say I have an Air Force story that parallels with what we’re hearing in the faculty meeting,” said Oster. 

“It was so funny because he was always able to break the tension in a room and the man loved to talk. When I first got to know him, he would talk incessantly and it was kind of funny… Just sharing war stories, he’d always say I can tell you more but it’s classified so I can’t tell you anymore and he’d always get me to laugh by saying that,” he added.

Col. McPeters will be remembered by many as an honorable man.

“Someone who had integrity, always did the honorable compassionate and right thing, and was good at his job,” said Lt. McPeters, his wife.

According to Col. McPeters’ biography, written by his wife the two met in 1992.

“In 1992, while at the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States conference in Nashville, Tennessee, he met Lt. Robin Kuhns Lynn, who was stationed at the Naval Hospital, San Diego at the time.  It was love at first meet and within the year, they were married, celebrating 25 years of marriage this last October.”

He was born on Oct. 14, 1957 in Landstuhl , Germany and was an Air Force brat (raised in an Air Force family). Since he was an Air Force brat his family relocated many times.

He attended high school and college here in California. 

“Colonel was a 1975 graduate of North High School.  He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree at California State College, San Bernardino, now California State University, San Bernardino in 1981; completed H & R Block Tax Preparation school 1993; and was enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration program at Touro University in 2003,” according to his biography.

Col. McPeters will always be missed and in the hearts of many.

“If Lieutenant (Robin McPeters)hears this, I want her to know that he will be missed. He will be in our hearts forever. This isn’t a goodbye. We’ll always keep in touch. ROTC has her back. We’re gonna miss him. I considered him family. I didn’t see him as an instructor; I saw him as a second father figure.” said Garcia.

“Without question, Lt. Col. McPeters exemplifies our school theme ‘Remember the Name,’ “ said Ybarra. 

“People will undoubtedly remember the name Lt. Col. McPeters with admiration for his service to our country and community, and with fondness for his commitment and contributions to the lives of the AFJROTC students he led with heart, conviction and pride,” he added.

Col. McPeters will be interred at Riverside National Cemetery on Wednesday, April 3 at 2 p.m.