Mic drop

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Gregory Heilshorn

Peter St. James retired from radio last week after a 50-year run in the business. The New Hampshire National Guard was fortunate to be a part of it.

Over the last decade and half, St. James did more to keep the NHNG relevant than any other member of the media. His weekly call-in show with deployed guardsmen, unofficially dubbed "Tuesdays With Peter," was unprecedented. It accounted for hundreds of interviews with our citizen-soldiers and airmen.

On Christmas Eve mornings, he dedicated his entire four-hour broadcast from 6 to 10 a.m. to the Guard. With the adjutant general in studio, they would chat live with our deployed. The governor and a senator or two would call in. Family members would speak directly to their loved ones overseas. The holiday shows were spontaneous and genuine. It was St. James at his finest.

He embedded with the 197th Fires Brigade during Operation New Dawn in 2011 and Task Force Jaguar for Beyond The Horizon 2013 in El Salvador. He returned to our state partnership country several times, covering the 39th Army Band's historical concerts at the Ilopango Air Show. He interviewed commanders and ambassadors, but always preferred talking with Joes.

St. James connected with our troops on a personal level, walking a mile in their boots on more than one, muddy occasion. Through his warm baritone, he was able to relate their experiences with a regular listenership of more than 25,000. Answering his questions on air was more like a conversation with a colleague.

Outside the booth, St. James volunteered as master of ceremony countless times for send-offs, welcome-homes, and five extraordinary gatherings in honor of our state's Vietnam veterans. Talk about going above and beyond. He even found time to record the personal stories of residents of the State Veterans Home for a special Memorial Day show.

The true measure of his impact is how many of our guardsmen consider St. James a good friend. He always had our back and for that we remain grateful.