Six local World War II veterans were honored during the recent Disabled American Veterans and Auxiliary Chapter 46 Christmas party at the Cherokee Rose Country Club.
Brothers Edger, Carroll and Charles Edwards and Emile W. Daniel, along with Graydon Martin and William McLaughlin, were recognized and honored for their service during WWII and being part of the “greatest generation.” The Edwardses, who served in the Navy, and Daniel, who served in the Army, all hail from Claxton.
“This handsome young man right here was my high-school principal,” said DAV Auxiliary’s Faye Morris said as she gave Edger Edwards a big hug. “I won’t say what years he was my principal, but it was after the war.”
Edger, 88, and Carroll, 90, served in the Navy from 1944-46, and Charles served from 1945-48. Charles Edwards, who said he served all of his time in the Pacific, said it was good that he and his brothers are “still here” and able to be together with their hometown friend, Daniel, 97.
“I was in the U.S. Navy as a radio-communication man,” Edger Edwards said. “I crossed the equator. In fact, when we crossed the equator, we were the first ship to go around Cape Horn during the war.
“That made me a ‘mossback sailor.’ It gave me the privilege of spitting on the deck of any ship in the U.S. fleet without penalty.”
Like Daniel, Martin and McLaughlin served in the Army during the war. Martin and Daniel later made a career in the Army, continuing to serve long after World War II, then in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
“I was in Normandy on D-Day, plus 6,” Daniel said. “I was on active duty in Fort Polk, Louisiana, when Pearl Harbor was attacked … (We) served all the way through ’till we met the Russians in Berlin in (April) 1945. I served in the Army for 30 years.”
Although each man was willing to talk about the branch in which he served, where and when he served, they had nothing to say about the horrors of the war itself. They had to be prodded to say anything really personal about their war experience, although the Edwards brothers admitted their mother was “worried to death” when each of her sons volunteered to serve in the Navy at a same time when “the world was in flames.”
Whether they were serving in the Army, Army Air Corps or Navy, they simply shrugged their shoulders and said they did the job that needed to be done and then came home. Most, like Edger Edwards, started a family and new career. Their memories of the war and what they did to put out the flames of a world war may never be told.
The party was attended by DAV Southeast Cmdr. Cort Nordeoff as well as Task Force Marne Cmdr., Brig. Gen. James Blackburn and his wife, Carla, who is from the Augusta area.
Following blessing of the food by DAV Chaplain Karen Bell, Cmdrs. Walter Helmick and Melinda Schneider presented certificates for Certified Service Officers and members who volunteered for community events and organizations outside the DAV.
Following the recognition of the WWII veterans and the meal, an informal skit began with lines delivered by DAV members around the crowded room. The skit began with the words, “If you love your freedom, thank a veteran.”
Helmick thanked everyone for attending and all those responsible for making this year's event happen, especially his Adjutant Brenda Shelton.
“Our sole mission at the DAV is to help veterans who are already out or soon will be out of the service,” Helmick reminded everyone. “It’s our job to be the advocate for them with the (Department of Veterans Affairs). We let them know their benefits and rights as veterans.”
He said Chapter 46 accomplished a lot in the 2014 and hopes to do even more in 2015.