Pacific Stars And Stripes Newspaper Archives Feb 11 1983, Page 27

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Pacific Stars And Stripes (Newspaper) - February 11, 1983, Tokyo, JapanFriday february 11, 1983 Okinawa Pacific stars and stripes higher education is survival lesson by sgt. Raymond Tademy . Marine corps amp Hansen when 21-year-old Robert Edwards joined the Marine corps he first intended to use it As a Gateway to but the education he got was Alesson in survival. Not necessarily withstanding the elements but with standing the sting of racial prejudice and joined with the idea of playing Marine corps sports and maybe earning a scholarship to a College or University said the now 52-year-oldlieutenant colonel and commanding officer 9th Engineer social realities of the time put a twist to his intentions. Varsity football the 6-foot-4 athlete established himself As a starter and Star defensive and offensive end for varsity football teams at Camp Lejeune 1953-54, Parris Island 1955,and Hawaii 1956-57. But when it was time to play those Junior colleges and University teams Edwards was players weren t allowed to play White players unless we were competing against other Marine corps varsity teams said Edwards. Coaches for College teams did get a Chance to see me play until 1958," said Edwards. By then iwas 28 and when they found out How old i was they did t have anything else to say nevertheless Edwards continue to Excel in his career Field after joining the corps in april 1951. He admits that discrimination was practice openly at that time. Twas an unwritten Law of the land. It was the Way of society and there was one Way for a Black Man to Deal with it. Accept it and survive excelled on the Battlefield he first survived and excelled on the Battlefield. He hit the Beach at Pahang Peninsula in South Korea i december 1951, trained in mine warfare and demolitions. He pinned on sergeant stripes six months after he set foot in the War was older than most of the troops said Edwards referring this poise in the heat of Battle and i could Lead men in credits the rigorous training at Boot Camp for instilling within him the inner flame to take initiative in the War developed a Confidence in my abilities i never had before said Edwards. I also believed we were the bes fighting Force in the world. Capable of coming out on top regardless of the Odds against us. That feeling has stayed with me throughout my career. I believed it then and i believe it now said Edwards. A year in Korea he served a year in Korea an proudly says he was Able to delve into the Many sides of combat engineering construction utilities and Clearing enemy and Friendly minefields All Over his assignment to Camp Lejuene,., after Korea gave him a Chance to further explore in a More relaxed atmosphere the ins and outs of his Field. I was with the 8th combat engineers said Edwards. I had the Good Fortune of being led by proficient staff non commissioned officers who were also korean impressive enlisted marines inspired Edwards to set aside thoughts of College scholarships and to set goals of attaining the top enlisted rank sergeant major. I met an outstanding Marine . Hash Mark Johnson said Edwards. I was very impressed he took a step in that direction by attending Drill instructor school at Parris Island. Upon graduation instead of getting his first platoon he was assigned to weapons train ing battalion As non commissioned officer in charge. Taking More Steps they did t have Black Drill instructors at Parris Island at that time said Edwards. Edwards began taking More step while with 7th combat engineers 1st Marine brigade Hawaii. He devoted his off duty time to College education. I started working on a degree i political science said Edwards. I began studying social studies his tory and Edwards said his studies mad him More aware of the part he wanted to play in life. He wanted bigger part than sergeant major. He lifted his sights to warrant officer. I always increased my goals said Edwards. I considered War rant officer Over commissioned because i Felt More qualified in the technical aspects of my Field instead of the his first submission was denied due to keen Competition and had it. Col. Robert Edwards stops by the refuelling warehouse offering Praise to marines at 9th Engineer battalion. Usic Cpl. Lee Tibbetts Tance of Black history he said Reading these historical subjects gave him a heightened sense of purpose and direction and by the time he reached the rank of gunnery sergeant he was ready to reapply for warrant officer for thelast time. Maybe the vibes of his readiness for the next step reached Headquarters Marine corps because relearned he would t be a warrant / also believed we were the Best fighting Force in the world. Capable of coming out on top regardless of the Odds against us. That feeling has stayed with me throughout my career.9 nothing to do with discrimination said Edwards. He continued his off duty studies but focused on personal preferences he Felt would help him proves began extensive Reading in Black history and subjects directly relating to my career. Someone once said you won t know where to go i you Don t know where you have been i feel this is True for Blac people As it relates to the import officer but a commissioned officer instead. He d served in enlisted ranks for 15 years. He d serve As a officer for the remainder of his was first commissioned As an do limited duty officer in 1966. Received my permanent commission As a Reserve Captain and augmented into the regular Marine corps in 1976 As a major said Edwards. He pinned on his Silver Oak Leafs last year. It has been a Long climb for Edwards. Thirty one years in the corps which included several years when it was especially hard for Black people ask me Why i stayed wit the corps during those years said the Clarksburg, explain that the Marine corps does t stand for racial discrimination. At that time it was the Way of society. And the Marine corps and other branches of the service were actually pioneers i leading the country in the direction of he said that was t All. The Challenge at the time was psychological. The main reason was his personal conviction that hardships build i consider myself fortunate Mohave endured where others have failed. Hardships build character and i consider myself a better Man. I am a better Man because Day to Day year after year i be Learned to survive. I m a others have come and gone i m still Edwards says he is still working on his degree but is proud to say that his 23-year-old daughter Rob Erta and 21-year-old son Michael Are actively pursuing their degree sat Atlantic Christian College in Wilson Pacific stars and stripes depends largely on Public affairs offices for contributions to this Page. If you have a Story that would be of particular interest to this newspaper please let your Pao know about it

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