As Americans reflected on the great sacrifices made by US military servicemen and women after the Memorial Day weekend, the Texas Sentinels Foundation, Bank of America, the Honorable Stephen H. Don Carlos, Mayor of Baytown and many residents and supporters gathered to honor the wounded Marine and pay him tribute for the service and sacrifice to the country.
SSGT Edwards received the keys to his new, 100% debt-free, mortgage-free, fully-furnished home in Baytown from the Texas Sentinels Foundation, Bank of America, and RE/MAX Premier of Baytown.
Edwards served in the Marine Corps for 11 years with Reconnaissance Units. In 2006, he was severely injured during a combat tour in Iraq when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated and burned nearly 50-percent of his body.
“It was a tragic experience,” he said, “I came out a stronger man.”
SSGT Edwards endured numerous surgeries and skin grafts. He continues to suffer from permanent damage to his spine, hips and legs, as well as Traumatic Brain Injury. After a long, painful recovery, Edwards deployed to Afghanistan as the first severely wounded Marine to redeploy into combat operations. He served as a Marine Combat Instructor and as the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in charge of the Marine Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Edwards is the recipient of Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star, and other distinguished awards and recognitions.
SSGT Edwards told the large crowd of well wishers and neighbors that the day was a one he would never forget.
“It feels like we won the lottery, it really does,” he said. “I’m humbled by this experience and I’m looking forward to living here, in Baytown.”
With a smile he later added, “I heard turkey hunting is good in Texas, so that’s something I plan to do!”
Holly Jackson, owner of RE/MAX Premier and the TSF Home Team Leader for the SSGT TJ Edwards’ Home, was overcome with emotion when she saw the city of Baytown turn out for the home award ceremony. Holly Jackson and her team of volunteers logged more than 1,000 hours of work to get the home ready for Edwards and his family. New dishes in the kitchen, food in the pantry, family photos framed and hung throughout the house and an outdoor living room were just a few of the highlights added to the home.
“To everyone that donated their time, money or brought items to decorate the home, I say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart,” Jackson said. “This was truly a team effort and I am proud to show the world that the city of Baytown is bursting with patriotism and hospitality and is the best place I can think of to raise a family.”
Richard Filip, Co-Founder of the Texas Sentinels Foundation, said the Texas Sentinels Foundation is currently working on 6 houses that will be awarded in 2014 throughout the state of Texas.
“The Foundation relies solely on the contributions and donations of generous individuals and corporations to make the dream of owning a home a reality for severely injured and wounded warriors,” Filip said. “We are proud and humbled to have such a strong volunteer support base. Our Texas Sentinels Foundation Ambassadors and Home Team Leaders deserve all the credit for these life-changing moments for our qualified recipients.”
To learn more about the Texas Sentinels Foundation, or to make a contribution, please visit www.texassentinels.org.
Bank of America
Targa Resources Partners, LP
Jamie & Jennifer Patterson
Dennis Jason, Jr., Metro Exterminating
Clayton Bracey, Precision Lawns
David Daspit, Texas First Bank
Tracey Wheeler, President, Baytown Chamber of Commerce
Neighbors Emergency Center
Quang Henderson, MD
Peter Houston, The Matthews Firm, LLC
Joel & Bonnie Black
Jeff & Stephanie Patton
Michael & Lindsey Baker
Debbie Bush, Start & Bush
Advanced Alloys, Inc.
Maintenance Metals & Supply, LLC
Sharen Belt, Great American Title Company
Thomas & Angie Cole
Phyllis Davis, Davis & Associates
Dale & Anita Corbello
Rusty Senac, Chambers county Commissioner
Anderson Shoe & Saddle
Daughters of the Holy Trinity #2548
Clara Navarre, Navarre Funeral Home
Chris Navarre, Navarre Funeral Home
MD Pharmacy, Mont Belvieu
Ismael & Allison Medina
Daniel & Joan Linebaugh
Linebaugh Law Firm
Scott & Karen Anderson
George & Monica Espenlaub
James T. Keogh
West Chambers County Pilot Club
Texas Roadhouse, Baytown
Triple H Carports & Patio Covers
Danny Biddy, Old River Baptist Church
Bubba Abernathy, Chambers County Commissioner