A eulogy to my friend Pete

I first met Pete Puckett several years ago when my wife and I pulled out truck and a U-Haul trailer onto the front lawn of our son’s house in Devine. Within minutes a man with a pistol in hand came around the corner of the house and asked who we were. I knew at once that my son had good security and that I had met a man who would become a good and personal friend.
His name was Pete.
My wife and I live in Oregon, but each winter we spend a couple of months living in our RV on our son’s place in Devine. Pete also had a house on this property and over the years we developed a close and mutual friendship. Pete and I spent many hours under the trees each morning with coffee cups in hand discussing the world’s problems and we solved them all. That campfire coffee tasted so good at 6:30 in the morning.
Pete and I were both Vietnam veterans. We were there at about the same time, but we lived different lives. I was an Air Force staff officer and Pete was a Marine Corps private who specialized as a sniper. He lived a brutal life in the jungles of Vietnam and he came back wounded in his mind. At times Pete would talk about his experiences, but often I could see him drift back to the Vietnam he remembered a young man and become silent. He was badly shaken by his experience in Vietnam and I believe it totally shaped his life. I once asked James what is was like growing up in Pete’s house. James responded that it was like living in a Marine boot camp.
Pete shared everything he had with us. Anything he had was ours if we wanted it or if we didn’t want it. He bought snacks for our grandchildren when he went to the store. He taught our grandson, David, how to take apart equipment and place the pieces separately in containers for future use. Pete was a good man.
Pete often spoke of his family, his daughter and his sons, their spouses and his grandchildren. He loved them all, but I am not sure he knew how to show this love. He said he had many regrets, and then he would become silent.
We never knew from year to year what animals would be living at Pete’s house; a stray dog or a raccoon living in a chest of drawers in his bedroom. One year he carried a pet skunk in his arms. Pete swore that the skunk had never sprayed anyone and I hoped I would not be the first.
We called the area around his house Sanford and Son from the old TV show. Pete collected everything. There wasn’t a piece of spare scrap metal in Medina County that did not make its way to Pete’s house. He always knew he had a particular piece of metal. The problem was finding it. All tools were left exactly where he last used them. He just had to remember his last project, and then he could find his hammer. I was always amazed of his ability to tinker. He could make or repair anything. Once I told him I needed a mobile reel to string barb wire around the property. He grabbed a few pieces of metal from a stack of discarded parts and within a couple of hours made me one. What a gift.
I last saw Pete last March as we loaded up the truck for our return trip to Oregon. I looked in his eyes and knew that it would be the last time I would see him. I gave him a big hug and told him to take care of himself.
As we grow older, we don’t make as many friends as we did when we were younger. But Pete was different. He became my friend and I will always treasure my friendship with Pete.
God bless you Pete. Semper Fi.
Doran Hopkins