It’s been nearly eight months since Blountstown native Lt. Col. Ty Edwards and his team of Marines were ambushed in Afghanistan. While recuperating in a Tampa hospital, Ty has received many cards, letters, emails, and visitors. But the guests he received Friday were a little more than special. They were members of his team of Marines.
Just surviving the attack they endured was miraculous. Living to pin a bronze star on one of his Marines is a moment Lt. Col. Edwards will surely never forget.
After being wounded in action, Lt. Briley soon learned he would be receiving a bronze star. But he decided the only person he wanted to pin it on him was his Lt. Colonel, Ty Edwards. He waited until he could come to Florida and that day came last week when he and two fellow Marines joined Ty, his wife, Anna, and their two children, in the Fisher House at Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans Hospital. Accompanying the soldiers was Dianne Villano, the woman behind Support Our Marines, Inc.
The event was not without a couple of surprises for Lt. Col. Edwards. Vallono presented him with a Jefferson Award she received in honor of her efforts to support primarily front line and infantry Marines serving in the most austere of locations.
“Considering what our Marines and their families endure and sacrifice, I felt guilty accepting an award for outstanding public service,” Villano stated. “I have never met a finer group of Marines than the Col.’s ETT Marines and nothing exemplifies ‘Outstanding Public Service’ better than Lt. Col. Edwards, his family and his Marines.”
Ty’s team also had a gift for him: the American flag flying over their base the day the team was ambushed and he was wounded. The flag was framed, along with a team picture and Lt. Col. Edwards’ medals.
Villano says, after the flag presentation, Lt. Col. Edwards made a short speech. “There was a huge pause and silence where no one moved a muscle,” Villano explains. “The room, being full of Marines and sailors, just stood there until the Colonel finally realized they were all waiting for him to say, ‘As you were.’ It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen!”