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Citizen Journal: Marine ex-gunner inspires attitude

Jerry Edwards gets ready to go to a Gonzaga Prep football game to see his grandson play.
Jerry Edwards gets ready to go to a Gonzaga Prep football game to see his grandson play.

Let me tell you about my neighbor.

Jerry Edwards is a Vietnam veteran, which in itself is not all that unusual as we have over 300,000 in the U.S. But Jerry Edwards is special in a unique way.

Jerry was a Marine Corps platoon gunner. These guys had a very low statistical survival rate based on the fact they were out front and very critical to the safety of the platoon. Jerry survived but at a very high cost. You see, Jerry earned three Purple Hearts – yes, three – and they just don’t pass them out for good looks.

Forty some years later Jerry is still suffering the consequences of those three Purple Hearts. He lives with over 300 pieces of shrapnel in his body, some lodged in areas that make it difficult to sit for any length of time. He is 99 percent deaf due to gunfire and explosions. He is constantly attached to an oxygen tank so he can breathe. He takes over 200 milligrams of morphine for the constant pain (human body is only supposed to be able to handle a maximum of 130). Just this year Jerry found out he has cancer, and the doctors are not very encouraging, as they are giving him until year end 2011. Note I said the doctors, not Jerry. He is very optimistic about his future (as one would guess).

Just about by now you are probably thinking, “This poor guy.” Wrong, not Jerry!

You will never hear Jerry Edwards complain – ever. You will always find him with a big smile and a hug, saying, “I love you, brother!” This is a guy who loves Jesus, loves people and will do anything for you within his physical capabilities and sometimes outside his physical capabilities. Until just very recently Jerry mowed his own yard just because he loved doing it – still can’t believe he never cut his oxygen cord.

So, forgive me when you start complaining about having to mow your yard, head to the job or your lack of time for golfing, fishing and hunting – all things Jerry can’t do. Forgive me when you start telling me about aches and pains that force you to have to take some aspirin occasionally. Forgive me when you complain about how life has dealt you a raw deal.

I may just respond by saying: “Let me tell you about my neighbor!”

South Hill resident Ron Fletcher can be reached by email at


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