Peterson: Ex-Marine helps combat vets through music
By Gary Peterson
It was a routine mission, at least as routine as any mission could be in Iraq circa 2004. John Preston and his Marine Corps unit were helping open a school when the most amazing thing happened.
"The kids surrounded us," Preston recalled, "and they were clapping and singing, 'Good, good America! Good, good America!' I remember going, 'OK, this is what it's about, win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.' It made no sense up until that moment."
A lot of cosmic puzzle pieces fell into place that day. Preston, who grew up on a Kentucky tobacco farm, was in Iraq because he enlisted in the Marines like his father and two older brothers. And having followed his father's bliss as a songwriter and performer, there was only one way for Preston to end that day.
"I wrote 'Good, Good America' that night," he said.
Fast-forward. Preston, 34, lives in Danville with his wife, Lauren, and son "Little" John, 6. He works for the Palo Alto Fire Department. He still writes and records music like a man on a mission. Which he is, donating money from live appearances and sales of his music to veteran-related causes while raising awareness of veterans' suicide.
The transition has been neither seamless nor painless.
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Good Good America