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Thanking A Hero

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house Saturday night at the Blountstown High School Auditorium after hometown hero, Lt. Col. Ty Edwards, wheeled his chair around, faced the crowd, and talked about his life since being ambushed in Afghanistan nearly two years ago. This Marine thanked his wife, Anna, family, friends and the soldiers who risked their own lives to help him that day in October of 2008 when he was shot. “They are the heroes,” he remarked, wiping away a few tears of his own. The local Woodmen of the World Lodge presented the tribute to Ty and all military personnel with Howard Johnson, Sr. coordinating the event. The evening included a pictorial tribute to Ty, along with presentations by several of his former teachers who told of the boy who had set his sights on becoming a Marine at a young age and followed through to achieve his dream. Ty’s father, Tommy Edwards, described the chain of events that occurred after the attack in Afghanistan, noting all the angels God put in his family’s path, from a cousin who flew Ty to a military hospital, Renee Jeppson of Blountstown meeting his wife in Germany, and other miracles that helped them know, as Tommy said, “Ty was going to be okay.” His father also told of the day a soldier, who had lost one of his legs, came to visit Ty in the hospital and stood the entire time. “I tried to get him to have a seat, but he said he wouldn’t sit in the presence of a Lt. Colonel. When he started to leave, he saluted Ty.” Although Ty had no use of his right arm and was just gaining strength in his other arm, he struggled to respond. “It felt like five minutes went by,” Tommy recalled. “But Ty raised his left arm and returned that salute,” noting that he was soaked as it took every bit of effort he had in him to do it, but he was determined. Sharon Leonard McCrone read a letter from Maj. Gene Duncan who told of the boy who used to visit his print shop to talk war stories. Maj. Duncan, in his 80s, flies monthly to visit Ty in Tampa. Former BHS Ag teacher Robert Wiltse (shown at right) described the freshman who helped lead his team to a state championship parliamentary procedure win in 1985. The team went on to nationals, but a scoring glitch cost them the title. “The winning team came up to us and actually told us we had really won it,” Wiltse recalled. Before Saturday’s event, he scrambled to find an FFA jacket to present Ty. Tucked in the corner of a closet in the Ag building at BHS, he discovered Ty’s old jacket, had it framed and told Ty it would be on permanent display at the Ag building to help inspire other students. The event concluded with Ellis Nichols of the Woodmen of the World presenting awards to Ty and his entire family for their sacrifice for our country.

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