Honoring a true American hero

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Until last Friday, I had never heard of a nonprofit organization called “Combat Marine Outdoors,” with its slogan – Outdoor Adventures from the Heart. I was invited to attend the organizational fund raising golf tournament at the Pelican Point Golf and Country Club in Gonzales. Sheriff Wayne Jones invited me because the group was to honor one of our local heroes, Henry Edler Jr., a disabled veteran from the Vietnam War.  

The money raised, over $50,000, is dedicated to entertaining disabled veterans on outings such as fishing and hunting. It was one of the most moving ceremonies I ever attended.  

As Mr. Edler was called up to be honored, Mr. Rusty Hicks, president of the organization, shared with the group that in March 1970 Mr. Edler was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served with the 101st Infantry Airborne Division. In January 1971, while serving his country in North Vietnam, Mr. Edler was climbing up a hill and was seriously injured by a rocket-propelled grenade. Two days after the accident, his right arm was amputated. He spent more than a year in the hospital and had numerous operations to save his left arm. Upon discharge, he was declared 100 percent disabled.

In 1976, he married his wife, Manya. They had two children, Ashley, who is deceased, and Casey Paul, who is about to earn his doctorate in philosophy. Casey teaches at the St. Joseph Abbey in Covington.

Henry was born in Germany

and lived there eight years. His father, Henry Edler Sr., a 25-year veteran of the Army, died in 1993. His mother, Elise Borgart, and father met while his father was serving in Germany.  

The Edlers, truly a loving American family, sacrificed so much to give us all the freedoms we enjoy. When asked if he had any regrets, he just smiled and said, “I’d do it all over again.”

While many people look to their favorite athletes as role models and heroes, I’m grateful to my friend, Henry Edler Jr., a true hero.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call 985-652-8477, or email hkeller@comcast.net.