John M. Edgar

 

July 20, 2005

 

Mr. Charles A. Lloyd, Chairman

USN Armed Guard WW IIVeterans

115 Wall Creek Drive

Rolesville NC 27571

 

Dear Mr. Lloyd,

 

All that I knew of my fatherís military activities during World War II was that he was in the Navy and was assigned to merchant vessels.He didnít say much about the war to his children.As we got older he said less and less.I do have hazy fragments of recollections, however.

 

I remember him telling us how cold it was and how there were always airplanes and/or submarines to be concerned with.I remember him telling us of depth charges and explosions.I remember him telling us of men in the water, covered with oil. I remember him telling us that he had been to many places, all over the world - that he had crossed the Equator and the Tropics and the Arctic Circle and the International Date Line.I remember him telling us that he had been to England and Scotland and Russia and Africa and to such strange sounding and unknown places like Enewetakand the Marshall Islands. He didnít say much else.Or, if he did, we didnít pay close enough attention.

 

When he enlisted in the Navy in 1943 he was just a twenty-one year old kid from Philadelphia, just out of the CC camps. When he was discharged in 1946, at twenty-four, the calendar says that he was still just a kid.But his experiences on those merchant ships say much differently than that.Only, I didnít know it until very, very recently.

 

My father died in January of 1985 and I had never asked him to tell me more about his Navy service.

 

With the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II receiving attention, a curiosity began to develop within me about what dad had done during the war.None of his eight children had much information.As the next of kin of a deceased veteran, I obtained his records from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.Sixty years after it happened and twenty years after his death, I am just beginning to learn what my father contributed to the world.Much was learned from reading those pages, yet the curiosity grew.Who or what was the Navy Armed Guard?What did they do?Why have we not heard of them?

 

What I am learning is that the Navy Armed Guard and the United States Merchant Marine may have made the most significant contributions and sacrifices to the war effort of any other military or civilian organization.That is in no way intended to slight anyoneís efforts.Without the sacrifices of every single participant and supporter, regardless of their military branch or civilian support activity, and especially those who died as a result of those efforts, we might all be speaking a different language today.Yet, what I have learned of the Navy Armed Guard has enlightened me and inspired me to learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I would like to do is to encourage the families and friends of former Armed Guards to learn about what these men did for us.†† Anyone interested can search the Internet and easily find much informative and inspiring data. Thanks to people like Charles Lloyd and Tom Bowerman and others, there is information readily available.Anyone can go to the Armed Guard web site at www.armed-guard.com and see for himself or herself. And while they are there I would hope that they would stop by www.armed-guard.com/edgar.html and meet my father.††† In addition to the information available over the Internet, there are two video documentaries, both by Zed Merrill & Associates, Forgotten Valor and The Winter Winds of Hell.Watching these gave me the sensation that I was watching through my fatherís eyes and experiencing his memories first hand.For those who like to read, I would recommend We Delivered! The U.S. Navy Armed Guard in World War IIby Lyle E. Dupra as very easy to read and very informative. For the interested reader, there are numerous other books and films pertaining to the Navy Armed Guard.Most can be found on the Armed Guard web site.

 

Now I know who and what comprised the Navy Armed Guard.Now I know what they did. Why we havenít heard much of them may best be explained by Tom Brokaw, who said, ďHeroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip quietly away.ĒThe Navy Armed Guard certainly rose to the occasion.Those of us who are enjoying the benefits of their efforts should not allow those heroes to slip away and become forgotten.Mr. Brokaw also said ďItís easy to make a buck.Itís a lot tougher to make a difference.ĒThe Navy Armed Guard made a profound difference in the structure of the world as it is today.

 

Obviously, as I am writing to the Armed Guard Veterans organization, there isnít a need to reiterate their accomplishments here.All that needs to be said here is that those accomplishments are magnificent.Well done!You delivered!

 

 

Best Regards,

 

 

John M. Edgar

 

John M. Edgar