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Hometown Hero: Peter Prokopovitz

Decades after two tours in Vietnam, veterans becomes a paramedic, and one of the first airborne paramedics for County Rescue Services
BELLEVUE (WFRV) It almost seemed preordained that Peter Prokopovitz would find himself in the military.

"Three weeks after I enlisted I did get my draft notice," Prokopovitz said.

Prokopovitz enlisted in the Army in 1966 to find a direction in life and to heed a president's call to action.

"I guess I got caught up in John Kennedy's--'Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," Prokopovitz said.

Prokopovitz would serve in Army Intelligence, monitoring enemy radio and telegraph transmissions, with help from linguists who spoke Vietnamese and Chinese. By triangulating those broadcasts, Peter and his unit could direct U.S. soldiers and marines toward enemy troops or away.

"And they (Viet Cong) said--"Hey, we just had a company of marines go past us. What do you want us to do?" And their handlers said--"Stay right where you are," Prokopvitz recalled.

Prokopovitz's unit helped the marines intercept the enemy unit, saving their lives. Prokopovitz would take on the role of life saver years after returning from two tours of duty in Vietnam. While serving as a volunteer fire fighter, he would work with County Rescue paramedics on some calls. He decided to join their ranks.

"I wanted to accomplish something in my life, you know? something good. I wanted to help people," Prokopovitz said.

A decision prompted by the Tet Offensive and the needless deaths of civilians.

"The mass killings, The atrocities. That's...that's something that I'll never forget," said Prokopovitz.

When County Rescue decided to add the Eagle-Three helicopter to its service, Peter Prokopovitz, would be among the first flight paramedics. In 26-years on the job, some of the many successful runs are hard to forget.

"Five, six years ago, there was a really bad car accident where we had to fly a ten-year-old girl into Green Bay. She was that critically hurt," Prokopovitz recalled. "And then about two or three-years later...and they said--"We're in Green Bay. We'd like to come over and see the operation and say thank-you."

And that's why Peter Prokopovitz is still ready to serve.

Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story.
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