President Carter’s 99th Birthday draws White House Communication Agency Gathering to Plains
Published 8:54 pm Saturday, September 30, 2023
Former White House Communication Association members met at the auditorium at the Plains Highschool and President Carter Museum on Sept. 30th.
Scott Davies was a Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Navy and served during the Carter and Regan administrations. He explained the needs filled for the president by WHCA.
“Because he is the commander and chief, he is always within a matter of minutes from anything that happens in the world. He’s notified within ten minutes. Everything’s set up to notify the White House, but if he’s not there, what we do is that extension to bring that communication to wherever he is.”
Davies recalled one story involving President Carter.
“They were playing softball behind the high school, and it was the President and the White House Staff verses Billy Carter and the press corps. I had my camera with me, and I took a picture of Jimmy up at bat, and the picture came out with the ball stopped in midair just before he hit it, and I believe he hit a double off of that.
It was a couple of years later, through the military aid, we were talking, and I told him about the picture, and he said, ‘let me see if I can get it signed,’ so he sent it up through channels and President Carter signed it. I thought it was really cool having my own photo signed by the President.”
Carmen Peltzer, U.S. Navy, was Chief Electronic Technician. He also had stories to tell involving President Carter.
“I’ve been to camp David, I’m a two-timer. I was in WHCA from sixty-seven to seventy-two, and then seventy-eight to eighty-three. A lot of my experience of Carter was coming down here after he left [the presidency].”
“They would have a barbecue for us, and the one I always remember is, somebody brought in a big bag full of oysters, on the shell, and Jimmy Carter and I were the only two who knew how to shuck oysters. Jimmy and I shucked a bunch of oysters for everybody, and then all the sudden he said ‘that’s enough. Get yourself a dozen.’ He got a dozen, we got a beer, and we went over to the corner and sat on the corner of the pool in Americus and shot the breeze for about a half hour or more.”
He also talked about a fishing trip Carter had taken in Alaska.
“Carter was supposed to go on his fishing trip at this lake. And the White House staff was talking and they said ‘Well this guy owns the lake, his name is Carmen Smith.’ I said ‘Excuse me? What did you just say? That’s my uncle.’ My Uncle went up there in 1933, Depression, and stayed up there. I only even met him twice in my life. He owned a lot of property, lakes, and a lot of stuff up there.”
Peltzer talked about the Staff asking for his help.
“’We’re having a little trouble getting permission. Would you go talk to him?’ I went and talked to him, and Jimmy Carter got to go fishing in the lake.”
Ken Bench was a staff Sergent in the U.S. Army. He told a story about saving a rough draft of the Camp David Accords.
“We had some of the highest security clearances, so they would go in there and we’d look to see if he left something, because you don’t want the stewards to get it or anybody else, so I went in there and it was just laying on a table, and I went ‘Oh okay.’”
He talked about how documents were usually burned, but he kept it.
“There’s a handwritten version, there’s one with move this down here, change this to this, that’s the one I got, and then there’s that one which is the signed copy. I took it home, I stuck it away, it sat in my belongings for, probably for a good thirty years, before I went ‘Oh, look at this!’”