Saturday, July 10, 2010

Army Sgt. Donald R. Edgerton

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Donald R. Edgerton, 33, of Murphy, N.C.

Sgt. Edgerton was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.; died July 10, 2010 near Char Dara, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Jesse W. Ainsworth.

MURPHY — Patsy Edgerton liked to tell her son he could be a politician or a comedian when he got out of the Army.

But Sgt. Donald Rocky Edgerton couldn't think of doing anything else other than protecting his country and the men serving it.

“He said ‘no, mom. I love my men',” Patsy Edgerton said Monday night. “I'm staying with them. I have to take care of them.'”

Sgt. Donald “Rocky” Edgerton didn’t spend much time in Murphy, but it was like his home, his father, Don, said Tuesday morning.

Edgerton remembers his son’s love of the woods in Cherokee County and the way he connected with the area.

“He was heartbroken when he left. He lived in New York, but this was his home,” Don Edgerton said. While Edgerton was driving to Sunday afternoon mass at St. William Catholic Church, he received a phone call from the military that his son had been killed in Afghanistan while on his second tour of military duty serving in the U.S. Army.

Initial reports indicate that Sgt. Edgerton died Saturday of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted patrol, according to a report issued from the Department of the Army at the Pentagon.

At 33 years old, Sgt. Edgerton died a bona fide hero.

“Rocky is not gone unless we let him go. His life has left us with joy. He enjoyed life,” Edgerton said.

Only a day before his untimely death, he had been nominated for a Bronze Star for saving several members of his convoy during an attack.

“Everyone was incapacitated but him. He was able to call in air support and land support. ... He had a physical abnormality – he wore his heart on his sleeve,” Edgerton said.

Sgt. Edgerton grew up as “Rocky,” a kid with a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor.

“He was a comedian. There is no one he dealt with that he did not touch in some way. He was just positive,” he said.

Born in Mobile, Ala., Sgt. Edgerton grew up in central Florida and then went on to Illinois to attend college. He played football throughout high school. By age 14, he was helping at his father’s flooring business.

He moved back to Florida with his parents at 19 and worked on a fishing boat.

It was three years ago when Sgt. Edgerton decided to join the army.

“Ever since 9/11 he wanted to do something, but he had a family and a little girl,” Edgerton said.

He went to Fort Knox in Kentucky then on to Fort Drum, N.Y., before heading off for his first tour of duty in Iraq.

When he returned home, he was sent to sniper school because of his precision with a rifle.

“He was the top gun at sniper school,” Edgerton said, adding, “He was deployed as a senior sniper in Afghanistan.”

Sgt. Edgerton and his family, including a young daughter, lived in Fort Drum, N.Y. He was assigned to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division.

Don Edgerton is now is a Gold Star father, and his wife, Patsy, a Gold Star mother. As parents of a fallen soldier, they join four other Gold Star mothers in the county whose sons gave their lives in wars, three in Vietnam and one in Iraq.

The most recent local loss was U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Saburant “Sabe” Parker who died on May 23, 2005, in a roadside bomb struck his Humvee.

Edgerton said he is waiting on word from the military on when his son’s remains will be escorted to Murphy for a local memorial service. He expects the memorial to be sometime next week.

The remains will be escorted by Sgt. Edgerton’s best friend who is in transit back from Afghanistan, Edgerton said.

Edgerton died July 10 doing just that. The day after his 33rd birthday, he was leading his men near Char Dara, Afghanistan, when he stepped on a land mine.

“He died a hero,” Patsy Edgerton said.

Edgerton had lived in Murphy only six months, selling granite for his father, before he joined the army at age 28. A high school and college football player, Edgerton had always loved his country, his father, Don Edgerton said.

“Ever since Sept. 11 he felt like he was out of place,” Don Edgerton said.

Patsy Edgerton said her son, who is also survived by a wife and 12-year-old daughter, was a funny, loving man who never met a stranger.

“He was the bravest man,” she said. “He just didn't let anything bother him. His main focus was to keep those kids safe.”

Army Sgt. Donald R. Edgerton was killed in action on 7/10/10.

1 comment:

Robin said...

What an amazing hero. His parents, wife and daughter can be so proud and know that in this plan many lives were saved for a reason. They may never know why but they can rest assured that there is an important reason.