Peter Joseph O'Toole

Army of the United States
25 April 1949 - 19 September 1968
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Panel 43W Line 040


Combat Infantry

Purple Heart (2 awards), National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign


The database page for Peter Joseph O'Toole

17 Feb 2004

Pete was a member of Sarah Heinz House Boys Club on the North Side of Pittsburgh. This area was a patriotic community that provided hundreds of volunteers who served in the Second World War. Sarah Heinz House Boys Club had three decorated World War II veterans in leadership positions during the 1960s. A good citizen, we learned, would proudly serve the country when called into service. Two dozen of my friends from Heinz House Boys Club enlisted during the Vietnam War, and served proudly in Vietnam. Several were wounded, but only Pete died in action.

Pete was always smaller than the rest of us, but he was always one of the first kids picked when sides were chosen for athletic games. He had a determination to excel despite being short and underweight.

Pete enlisted in the US Army when he graduated in June, 1967. He attended airborne training, and was a qualified paratrooper. He tried his luck with Special Forces training, I am told, but lacked the endurance.

Pete arrived in Vietnam in July, 1968, and was wounded shortly thereafter. He recovered from the wounds at a hospital in Vietnam. On September 19, 1968, Pete returned to his unit for duty. The truck he was riding in exploded from a command-detonated mine. Pete died immediately on some back road in Tay Ninh Province.

Pete lives on in the minds of the two dozen Heinz House Boys Club members from the 1960s who played ball with him on the asphalt field next to the Boys Club. Pete never quit on this field. And he never quit on the rifle unit he belonged to in Vietnam.

From a friend and fellow veteran,
William E. Novakovic
513 Woodland Avenue Oakmont, Pa. 15139

31 Mar 2004

I knew Pete as we worked in a Pittsburgh Eat 'n Park restaurant together while he was in high school and I was in college. His whole family worked there, his Mom, his sister Mary, they were nice people. He was always one to keep you laughing. Never backed down in an argument either, even though he was of small build.

After graduation when he enlisted we lost touch, I can remember how much his mom worried about him and what he had volunteered to do.

I could not bear to go to his funeral and have been ashamed ever since.

Later when I got drafted after College graduation I thought of him a lot. I still remember him often, as I do all the other friends I miss from this war.

From a friend,
Jim Giel
E-mail address is not available.

09 Apr 2006

Recently my social studies class has been studying the Vietnam War. So many things about this war have been very interesting to me. We also read a part of a book called "The Things They Carried" which made me realize how hard these men really had it. I could never imagine going into war as young as seventeen and having to deal with such devastating things.

Our class has also been doing a project called putting a face to a name, in which we had to research a Vietnam Veteran who had something in common with us. Peter and I both had the same last name, and both were from the Pittsburgh area. While talking to my family about this project, I found out that we are distant cousins. He was a nephew of my cousin Jean O'Toole. I learned so much about Peter while doing this project. He seemed to be such an amazing man going right out of high school to go serve our country. He seemed very determined and ready to excel at everything he did in life. This was an amazing man who had the drive to return to his unit only a few days after being wounded, but unfortunately was killed soon after when the truck he was riding in exploded from a command detonated mine. It is a shame that the life of man as wonderful as Peter had to be cut so short. Peter died at the age of nineteen, but will be remembered in the hearts of many.

Cailin O'Toole

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009