Sgt. Edwards was injured December 9, 2006, with burns on 45% of his body, yet a month later, he was out of that hospital bed walking around. On March 1st I received this picture of Sgt. Edwards at the burn center. It had been taken a short time before.
You may know who is standing there beside him, Chuck Liddell. Mr. Liddell, a professional fighter from the “UFC” had stopped by to visit the Marines and soldiers who were patients there at the burn center.
By now it is April of 2007, and Sgt. Edwards has flown from
His case manager,
Lisa Gustafson and Brendan Fitzgerald understood that in order for Sgt. Edwards
to truly overcome his injuries, he needed to get out of the hospital and back
to his Marines, his family and his friends. “Brendan Fitzgerald, a Marine mentor of mine
and Lisa Gustafson, my case manager at BAMC were instrumental in the next phase
of my recovery. Brendan had recently
retired from the Marine Corps and moved to
While Sgt. Edwards was there with TOW Company, he accomplished many things. He worked in the shop to better organize it, setting up a system for gear distribution for drill periods, by simplifying the way this was done. He took the time to make sure that each vehicle had the exact same equipment in it, that the men would “instinctively know how to use it.” He also trained the incoming communications chief. Remember that Sgt. Edwards' MOS was in communications, and thankfully he was not being hindered in doing that work as a result of the burns he had sustained. In addition to training the new chief, he organized the information for him into binders that would be easily and readily accessible. He took the knowledge he had gained from working in communications and transferred it into those binders. He streamlined the communications shop to lessen the stress involved when it came time for inspections.
From left to right: Brian Hill (USSA / Director of
Fitzgerald (USSA / Director of Sales), Lisa Fitzgerald, Chaera Stone
(USSA / Program Manager), myself / Sgt. TJ Edwards, Brad DeLauter (Recon
1stSgt. (Ret.) and (USSA / Director of Operations), Maj. Purcell (former
Inspector-Instructor at the Broken Arrow, TOW Company) and 1stSgt.
(Ret.) Ochoa (former 1stSgt. at the Broken Arrow, TOW Company).
Have you noticed a pattern that revolves around helping others here? It seems that Sgt. Edwards is the kind of man who actively chooses to step in and help others, and a lot of that has been done on his own time.
Full recovery however, involved more than just being there and working with TOW Company. Sgt. Edwards needed to recover both physically and mentally. He had proven that he was capable of the mental challenge by all his hard work with TOW Company, getting it organized more efficiently. But what about the physical challenge of being a Marine?
It seems that MSgt. White had a lasting effect on Sgt. Edwards. “Two things that MSgt. White instilled in all of the Marines who served with him to include me was to be a silent professional and to never quit. I was burned on 45% of my body and the pain that pulsated inside of me for an entire year was off the scales and words will never truly describe that level of pain that I was in. There came a point where the pain was off the scales and I questioned how I could make it one more day. I wanted to quit but I didn’t because I remembered MSgt. White’s words about never quitting.”
Currently Sgt. Edwards is listed as active duty, with a no
duty status. He is still waiting to hear
back from the Medical Board on whether or not he will be cleared to return back
to duty with the Marine Corps. He passed
his Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test just 9 months after the
I asked him where he thought he might be in 5 years. Sgt. Edwards replied, “If the Marine Corps does
decide to keep me then I would expect that I would be close to
picking up E8. I would like to deploy back to
And of course, I had to ask Sgt. Edwards, “What makes being a Marine special to you?” “Our brotherhood of the Marine Corps is extremely close and that we all take care of each other. It's also a great feeling to be part of the military juggernaut that is hunting down terrorist.”
“The civilians in
So what do you suppose the Sergeant is doing while he waits to hear back from the Medical Board? If you guessed he might be volunteering, you would be right. Sgt. Edwards does manage to squeeze in some fishing between running marathons, triathlons and volunteering at BAMC. He spends time visiting newly wounded veterans at BAMC. He does so in order that they have the faith to know they are not alone in the hospital. His presence is a great comfort I am sure, as only one who has been there can understand what they are going through. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be each time he walks back into that hospital, yet he continues to do so, to inspire those men and women to never quit!
“I put one foot in front of the other and I here I am today. I have competed in one Triathlon, one full
and one half
IED Victim Rebounds from Burns
3rd Recon leader accepts Bronze Star by recognizing full battalion
Sgt. William “TJ” Edwards – Part 1 Life Before The Corps
Sgt. William "TJ" Edwards - Part 2 Six Dog Tags
Overcoming Adversity: MSgt Jonathan White and the Team Semper Fi Fund effort
Copyright 2008 MsMarti. All rights reserved.