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Military Family Pride

Eric waves from the deck of the USS Enterprise

Last year, the week of July 8th through the 15th was not such a good week for 18 year old James “Eric” Edwards. His “Big Pawpaw” (his great-grandfather) was killed in an automobile accident. Eric served as a pallbearer, carrying his WWII Army veteran ancestry and hero through a military funeral. Within the next month, Eric left for boot camp after joining the United States Navy Following his Pawpaw’s (his grandfather) footsteps. In route to bootcamp, he was informed that he was going to be a father himself.
After both Naval boot camp and training, he was able to come home for a very short amount of time. This made it possible for him to be present for what he thought was going to be the birth of his son. However, his orders for his first deployment pulled him away just as his son was literally in the process of being born. He was able to take personal leave to be with his son, James Eric Edwards, Jr. aka – “EJ”, when he was 3 days old. Eric was only able to stay 5 days with his newborn son. He was then deployed for six months at sea, on the USS Enterprise, a post WWII battleship/aircraft carrier. One of the wars the USS Enterprise was commissioned in was the Vietnam War, which Eric’s Pawpaw served when in the Navy. The ship was a link between his military service and his Pawpaw’s military service. Eric’s deployment out to sea limited his contact with family.
Ironically, his homecoming date fell on July 15th, which would have been his Big Pawpaw’s 97th birthday, an important family event. Without his knowledge, his family surprised him at the dock with his fiancé and EJ who was then 6 months old. While waiting for the ship to reach the dock, his family noticed a beautiful circular rainbow around the sun resembling a halo in the sky. His aunts both commented how that was his Big Pawpaw’s presence. The rainbow lasted the duration of the ship’s docking and the family leaving the base.
Eric and his family immediately left Norfolk, VA to surprise his pawpaw in Natchez, MS on Sunday morning for his installation as State Commander of the American Legion. As Eric stood by his Pawpaw at the installation, he held his son who wore his own naval attire, setting the tone for continued family military service.
This weekend was an amazing family journey, with Eric’s homecoming on a Vietnam battleship/aircraft carrier falling on his Big Pawpaw’s birthday, to proudly standing beside his Pawpaw at an American Legion installation holding what might be a 5th generation of the Edwards’ family to serve this great country.

Eric Edwards, James Edwards and Eric "E.J." Edwards Jr.

Eric, E.J. and Eric's fiance, Misty Curl

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