About SPC Chad A. Edmundson

In Memory of the Light of Our Lives

Chad A. Edmundson was born on November 9, 1988. He was always that kid who made everyone laugh, and never had a bad word to say about anyone.

Chad joined the military in his junior year of high school. The following summer, he completed basic training before his senior year. After graduating high school in 2008 at the age of 19, Chad went to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for infantry training.

When he completed AIT and pre-deployment training, Chad left for Iraq in January of 2009. He was killed on May 27th 2009 while on foot patrol in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during a dismounted patrol.

Timeline of Chad’s Life

  • Born November 9, 1988
  • Joined Military In Junior Year of High School
  • Completed Basic Training Before Senior Year
  • Specialist With Pennsylvania Army National Guard Company B, 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade
  • Deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Served at Camp Liberty, Iraq
  • KIA May 27, 2009
  • Awarded Purple Heart (wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States)
  • Awarded Bronze Star Medal (heroism in combat zone/meritorious service in a war zone)
  • Awarded Good Conduct Medal (exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity in active Federal Military service)
  • Awarded National Defense Service Medal (honorable service in the Global War on Terrorism)
  • Awarded Iraq Campaign Medal (service in Iraq during the Iraq War)
  • Awarded Global War On Terror Service Medal (support of operations to counter terrorism)
  • Awarded Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device (reserve service with mobilization)
  • Awarded Army Service Ribbon (advanced individual training with active service)
  • Awarded Combat Infantryman Badge (performance of duties while personally present and under fire while serving in assigned infantry/Special Forces capacity, in a unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size, engaged in active ground combat)

Chad is survived by his mother, Karen Cornell, father, Roy Edmundson, step mother, Sherry Edmundson, and three siblings: Jess (older sister), Stephanie (younger sister), and Alex (younger brother).

Chad put his heart and soul into serving our country.

I am due for a miracle

I’m waiting for a sign

I’ll stare straight into the sun

And I won’t close my eyes

Til I understand or go blind

United States Army

By Sgt. Dustin Roberts, 2nd HBCT PAO, 1st Inf. Div., MND-B June 20, 2009

BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers remembered the life of one of their own in a memorial ceremony at Camp Liberty, May 30.

Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers serving with the 2nd Stryker Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, held the ceremony for Spc. Chad Edmundson, from Williamsburg, Pa., who died of wounds from an improvised explosive device during dismounted patrol operations in Abu Ghraib May 27.

Friends and comrades of Edmundson said a few words to describe just the type of character he had.

“Chad personified every aspect of the Army Values,” said Capt. Jason Hoffman, Edmundson’s company commander. “His character was defined by selfless service.”

Hoffman said Edmundson helped build a foundation of teamwork and camaraderie by aggressively completing any mission without hesitation or complaint and his attitude spread among the Soldiers around him.

“Spc. Chad Edmundson was a builder. By the work of his hands and his winning spirit he built up those around him,” he said. “He lifted up his squad and platoon with his high motivation.”

Edmundson’s fellow Soldiers agreed that his elevated motivation was kept on and off duty.

“Besides when actively engaged in military operations, I rarely saw him without a smile on his face,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffery Crum, who was in the same platoon as Edmundson. “He was always in good spirits and that attitude spread throughout our platoon.”

Crum said Edmundson’s patriotism and courage is something he will always remember.

“We will honor him for who he was as a man and a friend,” he said. “He is someone who will never be replaced and someone we will never forget.”

Edmundson’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Medal with “M” device, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Military Times

Honor the Fallen

Died May 27, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

Army Spc. Chad A. Edmundson, 20, of Williamsburg, Pa.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry, 56th Stryker Brigade, Pennsylvania Army National Guard; died May 27 in Baghdad of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near unit while on a dismounted patrol.

Maj. Gen. tells of man of ‘enormous potential’

The Associated Press

Chad A. Edmundson helped build a foundation of teamwork and camaraderie by aggressively completing any mission without hesitation or complaint.

“Spc. Chad Edmundson was a builder. By the work of his hands and his winning spirit he built up those around him,” said Capt. Jason Hoffman. “He lifted up his squad and platoon with his high motivation.”

Edmundson, 20, of Williamsburg, Pa., died May 27 when a bomb went off while his squad was in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. He was a 2008 high school graduate and was assigned to Altoona, Pa.

“He was an outgoing, great, really good kid. He just liked to make everybody happy,” said his cousin, Justin Swartz.

Maj. Gen. Jessica L. Wright said: “Spc. Edmundson was a dynamic, young soldier who had enormous potential in the military or any other career field he would have chosen.”

His sister, Jessica Leader, said he loved “skateboarding, bowling, golfing, fishing, wrestling, being with friends and family, and making his own rules.”

He is survived by his mother, Karen Cornell and his father, Roy Edmundson.

Altoona Mirror

Hollidaysburg Mayor Joseph Dodson presents the Gold Star Mothers plaque to Karen Cornell on Monday during Memorial Day services in Hollidaysburg. Cornell’s son, Spc. Chad Edmundson, was killed in Iraq in 2009. Mirror photo by Walt Frank

MAY 29, 2018 - Walt Frank, Staff Writer

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The mother of a Williamsburg man who was killed in the line of duty was recognized Monday during Memorial Day services on the Diamond in Hollidaysburg.

Karen Cornell received the Gold Star Mothers banner, plaque and pin during the service sponsored by Fort Fetter American Legion Post 516.

Cornell’s son, Spc. Chad Edmundson, 20, was killed May 27, 2009, in Iraq near Abu Ghraib when a roadside bomb exploded while he and other members of the 56th Stryker Brigade were on patrol.

He was part of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Company B, 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade, that left the Frankstown Armory in January 2009.

“Chad was killed nine years ago, and his mother was never presented these honors. We are correcting that oversight,” said Sam Dunkle, post commander.

Cornell said she was honored, stating that Sunday was the ninth anniversary of her son’s death.

“Chad lived to be a soldier, that was all he looked forward to. He knew the risks and was still willing to serve. We are very proud of him and still are. He is my hero,” Cornell said.

“We need to thank the family members of those who died, including Chad Edmundson, who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Blair County Judge Wade Kagarise, keynote speaker and U.S. Army veteran.

Dunkle said Memorial Day is our nation’s most solemn holiday.

“We are paying tribute to fallen service members who died serving our country. Memorial Day is known as the unofficial start of summer. There is nothing more important than what we are doing today, honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Dunkle, who served 23 years in the U.S. Army.

State Rep. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, said her father was a prisoner of war in World War II, her uncle was a pilot who lost his life in World War II and a cousin lost his life in Vietnam.

“Our family is aware of the sacrifice every day citizens make. We are a free people because of the brave. Remember the sacrifices that were made for our freedom,” Ward said.

Kagarise said those who gave the ultimate sacrifice have enabled people to enjoy the freedoms they have today.

“Remember the soldiers who bravely gave their lives in the line of duty. I challenge all of you today that we remember the rights and privileges given to us by those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. We have these privileges because of those who fought and died,” Kagarise said.

In Memoriam

A Soldiers Prayer©

Remember me as I walk away

for you I lived and died this day

And in this moment I can recall

that as I fell I still stood tall

Into the falling night I cry

tell them I love them and tell them why

I am not there to see them grow

or curb the wild oats they sow

I am the one with arms held wide

even in death not stepping aside

For God and country I am here

your pain I hold I feel your fear

Freedom is my gift to you

as I left, this price I knew

I am so cold and so afraid

and as the fear begins to fade

I think of those to follow me

to give their lives to liberty

As I taste death’s embrace

I pray for strength and a bit of grace

Let me die as I have lived

leaving nothing to forgive

My eyes are heavy let me rest

I know now I have done my best

“My Son Will Not Be Forgotten”

Chad’s Mother – Karen Cornell

“Chad loved life. He always had a smile on his face. We started a foundation in his name and all proceeds we make go to help other military families in our area. My son will never be forgotten”

– Karen Cornell, Chad’s mom

A Father’s Reflections

by Roy Edmundson

The Tree of Promise

I remember Chad was working on a rock garden for Judith and C.J. They asked Chad to help. Of course, he said yes. There was this tree right in the middle of the garden. It looked dead and only had a few green leaves on it. They said, “Take it out, it’s dead.” Chad said, “Leave that tree in there! That’s a tree you’re really gonna appreciate someday.” The spring after Chad lost his life, that tree was in full bloom. Now, it’s the most beautiful tree in that garden.

He Made Me Proud

We were really close. I don’t think a lot of people realize how close we were. It was like I was raising myself. We didn’t need anything – toys, computers, games, nothing – to be happy. We’d just lay in the yard and laugh and be happy. Everything he did was to make me happy – and he did. I’m so proud of him.

Chad Gets Home

We had a curfew for the kids. Chad would come in and I’d be almost asleep and that boy would come in all the way to the door of my bedroom and lick my forehead and say, “Hey, I’m home, dude.” I hated that so bad, but he’d day, “I love you, man. I just want to let you know I’m home.”

How Is That Christmas Tree Even Standing?

Every year, we would go get a huge tree and bring it home and Chad and I would get to work. We had so much fun laughing and joking and giggling so much the tears would run down our faces. We didn’t even use the right tools. We had so much fun. We’d cut the tree off, but it never fit in the holder. We had to use ropes and run lines to keep the tree up. We did it so wrong, but it was fun. Those memories mean so much.

“Dad, You’re Boring”

Chad called me every day or every other day when he was in Iraq. I could always sense when he would call. When his call came, I’d always drop whatever I was doing to take his call. One morning he called and I could tell he was a little stressed. His exact words were, “Dad, I have nothing new. I just called to hear your voice. Just talk, dad. I don’t care what you say.” So, I just described in extreme detail what I was doing while I was getting gas. Chad said, “Dad, you’re boring” and we just laughed and laughed.

Family First

If there’s anything we can learn from Chad, it’s that family is first. It doesn’t matter what I asked him to do, or if he wanted to do it, he just did it because I asked.

Collecting Stone for the Pond

One day, we decided to put a pond out back and we needed stone. We had a little pull-behind cart for the mower and decided to ask some of the farmers nearby if we could come in and get some of the field stone. The first farmer we asked said, “You’d be doing me a favor. You take all the stone. You can have as much as you can haul out of here.” Well, that was all we needed to hear! We loaded our little cart up so full of stone that the front wheels came up off the ground. It was really loaded down. I said, “Buddy, we have a problem,” but Chad hopped right on the front of the mower, the front wheels came back down, and he said, “Dad, come on let’s go! Take me home, Daddy!” and we got the load home and dumped it. Every time the wheels came up, he said, “Time to go!” and we spent the day that way until we had all the stone we needed for the pond.

The Lost Sheep

I’m very close with Alex and Steph and Jess. If it would have happened to any of them, I’d be exactly the same way as I am with Chad. EXACTLY. It’s the fact that I lost him.

The Bible says about how when the shepherd would lose one of his sheep he would leave the flock to go look for that one sheep. As a father that loses a child, you are like that shepherd that has lost one of his sheep because you spend the rest of your life looking for the one you lost. You’re never gonna find it, but you keep looking for it. So, you look for it in memories. And pictures. There’s not an area of this yard that I can’t see him standing in. Or a place that he’s been.

No Cure for Gold Star Disease

We’re good friends with the Kreitzer family. They lost their son in Iraq in 2005. There was a time when I couldn’t talk about what happened to Chad. I remember Roger told me (without me asking), “Roy, no matter how long it goes the pain never gets better, but you do learn to live with the pain.” He’s right.

Years ago, I used to think that someday the day would come that the pain would be gone and we’d be good. That is not true. You live with it. Every day. Day and Night. Seven days a week.

When Chad died, there were people everywhere – people in the front yard and people in the backyard. People upstairs and people downstairs. For me, I still live that day. Every day is that day. You try to explain it, but you can’t because you’re still living THAT day.

You learn, over a period of time, to handle the pain. How to control it.

What I think helps me is humor – being funny and having fun, being crazy. That’s something Chad and I shared, too. I think that helps, but you know, for me I still stand in that church. I still stand at that casket. I still stand there. I’m still standing right there.

We used to go to church but it got to the point when I was in that sanctuary all I could see was that casket sitting there. You try to get past that. You try to get over it, but I’m still at that church, standing at that casket on that day.

I’ve talked privately to many fathers who have lost their sons over the years. I’ve learned that they’re all the same way. All of them are exactly the same way.  I thought maybe it was just me. Maybe that was just the way I am. Maybe it was because Chad and I were so close – such good buddies – but all of the fathers are exactly the same way.

I know one father whose “Gold Star Disease” has penetrated him to the core so much that that he can’t even drive for fear of the car rolling or turning. His wife drives him everywhere.

We went to one Gold Star dinner and there were so many fathers and families there – all affected just like me.

Turning Grief Into Good

I don’t think a lot of people understand that when someone says they’re doing a memorial for Chad, that’s what we live for. That’s what we have. You live every day waiting for the next thing to come up because that’s it. That’s all you have, you know?

I don’t know what I’d do if we didn’t have the Foundation and knowing that through Chad’s death, we are able to help others – especially military families and veterans. You kind of take the sadness and the sorrow of the loss and turn that into a positive.

One time Sherry said something to me that made a lot of sense. At the time, I couldn’t talk. Didn’t eat. Didn’t sleep. One night she said, “You know Chad wouldn’t want you sitting there like that and sobbing like that.” It hit home. She was right. I thought, You know what, he’d probably come over and slap me and say you better get up. You better make something happen because I didn’t die for you to just sit there like that.

A Whole New Spiritual Experience

I’m drawn to the flag that was installed in my yard by some of the soldiers and veterans after we lost Chad. It’s special. It’s very special because the stone around that flag is some of the stone that Chad and I went and got together. Some of the big stones are the ones we laughed about. I told him he was a baby because he couldn’t pick the stone up, but I got news for you, I couldn’t have picked it up either. Those two big stones underground took both of us to lift up. They’re holding up that flag now.

One night when everyone was in bed, I stood by that flag and said, God you gotta help me because I am not gonna get through this. Not that I was gonna do anything stupid, but I just wasn’t gonna make it. I just wasn’t.

It’s a whole new spiritual experience. I tell people who lost someone to try to look at the good instead of the bad. The bad is you lost them, but the good is to look at the life they lived and the time you had to spend with that person. Just think about that. That was the wonderful part of it. You got to spend that time with that person.

I do believe certain people are put in the Foundation for a reason. I’m always glad when we have veterans be a part of it because I know sometimes it’s not easy for them, too. I’m happy when they stick with it and don’t run away. I know it’s not easy. I know that. I’ve seen it. Sometimes it’s hard, but it is good. We are doing good.

Thank you, Pastor Campbell

When the military asked me what I wanted to do for Chad’s funeral, all I knew was that I wanted him home. It’s not often that the military asks what you want. Pastor Campbell offered his church and I am so grateful that we were able to give Chad the military honors and also keep him close to home.

Thank you, Blair County Honor Guard

During the funeral, I became overwhelmed and had to step outside for a bit. I walked down one of the hallways of the church and looked out the window and just saw all these motorcycles. What in the world is that? I had to find out.

I walked out the door of the church and looked at the motorcycle group and they were talking. As I walked out, one of the men said, “Everybody, quiet! Let the man speak!” Now, I didn’t go out there to speak. I just didn’t know what it was. He said, “Go ahead, Mr. Edmundson.” I didn’t know what to say, so I just thanked them all for being there with me and I talked to them for a bit. But all the while I was still a little confused because I didn’t understand why all of these bikers were there. As far as I know, Chad never rode a motorcycle in his life. The man said, “Mr. Edmundson, we’re the Blair County Honor Guard. We’re here in case anybody decides to do anything on the negative side at the funeral for Chad. If they do, we are here to stop it.”

The tears just ran down my face. These guys are willing to sacrifice like Chad did, for Chad. That’s an amazing group of men.

“Dad, Guess What”

Bugaboo (Chad) knew the strings to pull to get me laughing. He knew how to make me mad, too, but he sure knew how to make me laugh. Chad would do things you would never tell your dad about, but he’d do them and the next thing you know, he’d come to me and say, “ Dad, guess what.” I’d say, “What?” Chad would say, “Well, I . . . “ and tell me the thing and I’d say, “Well, why’d you do that?” and he’d be like, “I don’t know. I thought it was a good idea” and we’d just laugh.

The Tattoo

One time, Chad mentioned about a tattoo. I preached to him for about 3 hours. Now, I don’t have anything against tattoos. There’s nothing wrong with tattoos; however, I do have a problem with getting a tattoo without first thinking it through! So, out the door he went. And got a tattoo.

Telling It Like It Is

There wasn’t anything Chad didn’t tell me. He would tell you anything. He was as open as you could get. So if he told you, “I didn’t do that,” he probably didn’t. He’d just tell on himself and he said exactly what he wanted, too. I mean, what guy on Christmas with his girlfriend while on leave would say, “Dad we’re going bowling and you’re coming with us?” We were that close.

A Helper

Chad would do anything for anybody. Anything. There were times he would leave here and literally be gone all day. When he’d come home, I’d ask, “Where were you at?” Chad would say, “Just here and there. Nowhere, really.” After he passed, we found out that all the times he was gone, he was helping somebody else with something. People came to us – I don’t know how many – people from here in Williamsburg, from Martinsburg, and Altoona. They came and said how he helped with this or he did this for us.

Are You Having a Problem With Someone?

Family is so important. It’s everything. If you have a problem with someone in your family, go to that person or call them. I spoke at an event and said, “If you’re at odds with someone in your family, call that person. This is what you say. You can say, I’m sorry and I love you. You know what you’re gonna hear on the other end of the line? I’m sorry, too, and I love you. It works.

Don’t stand by someone’s casket and say, I should have… I could have… I would have…but I didn’t.

Be the one standing at the casket and saying, I’m glad we made amends or I’m so glad I made that phone call, even if we didn’t make that amends. It is so important.

One More Hour

So many people have asked me, “If you had one more hour to be with Chad, what would you do?” I would turn it down. During our final time together when we all went down to Fort Indiantown Gap and said our goodbyes to Jordan and Chad. They were all the way in front and I remember Chad turning and looking back and our eyes met one-on-one. Chad turned to his group and said, “Hold on one minute. I gotta go hug my dad one more time.” He ran through the crowd as fast as he could, and we just grabbed each other, and we just hugged the living daylights out of each other. I remember him saying, “Dad I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you” and I said, “Buddy, I love you, too.” That was it. That was the final moment. You can’t get that moment back. You can’t come back. You can’t do that again. That’s as real as it gets.

Chad Was Happy When the People Around Him Were Happy

I don’t know of anybody that didn’t like Chad. I’m sure there were. When he was at school, there was a boy nobody liked and he invited everyone in the class to his birthday party. I remember Chad coming home, standing up in the living room, and he was trying to get some money together to get something. We were like, “Chad, what are you doing?” Chad explained to us that the other kids said they were going to go to this boy’s birthday party but they didn’t like him and weren’t going to go, but Chad said, “I’m going and I’m going to take something.” That’s the kind of kid Chad was. That was Chad. If you’re smiling and laughing and having fun, he’s having fun. That’s who he was. That’s how he was.

The Call Before the Storm

Chad and I had lots of good conversations on the phone while he was in Iraq, the same as when he was here. All kinds of conversations about all kinds of things. We would just laugh with each other. I left here one morning to go to work and I knew how far I could go before I was out of service. I was getting close and I was in a hurry. A snowstorm was coming.

Chad called and I had maybe a mile before I was out of phone service. So I was talking to him and thinking, I’m almost out of time. I gotta do something. I’ll just pull over. When I went to pull over, my two right wheels went into a ditch and my vehicle went up on its side. I fell into the passenger side of the vehicle. Chad was like, “What’s going on?” I said, “Nothing, Buddy.” Chad said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m not doing anything.” He said, “Well, what was that?” I said, “Nothing.” I didn’t want to tell him I just wrecked my vehicle, so I sat in the car and I’m just talking to Chad saying, “Yeah buddy I’m good.”

So when I got done, they were pulling my car out of the ditch and back onto its wheels and one of the guys asked, “Don’t you see you just went off the road?” I said, “Yeah, I do. I had my son calling me from Iraq and I knew I had to get off the road to talk to him or I was gonna lose cell service. They were like, “Oh. We got you, dude.” They got me back up on the road. I’m so grateful.

Chad’s Room

We started the room for Chad and we still have a lot of stuff to put in there. As long as I’m breathing, Chad’s stuff will always be on display. I’m not gonna be the dad that pushes his son’s stuff into the corner closet somewhere and some grandkid in the future pulls it out and asks, What was this stuff? We have his wrestling shoes and headgear, his skateboarding shoes, and all that stuff.

The Wrong Shoes

Chad did the craziest things. I remember when he went out for football and I went to his practice, standing at the doors where the players started running out. The coach was standing there saying, “Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle!” All the players ran out. Except for Chad. I looked down and that boy was wearing wrestling shoes.

The coach looked at him and just shook his head. He asked me, “Can you believe that? Can you believe that boy is wearing wrestling shoes to a football practice?” He didn’t know who I was. I said, “Well coach, in this case yes I do. That’s my son.”

A Natural-Born Fisherman

Chad was more of a baseball player – and a fisherman. That’s really what he enjoyed. Fishing. That boy could fish like I’ve never seen anybody fishing!

Chad, Alex, and I went down to the river one day. There were other guys along the river fishing. Alex and I were casting out and began to hear Soloist Chad Edmundson coming down the trail just whistling and singing his heart out. He didn’t know we were sitting on the railroad bridge piers there. No one was catching anything.

Chad, still singing, walked up, cast out, asked, “How’s it going, fellas?” to the other guys, pulled out 3 fish, looked over at us and said, “Oh, there’s my dad and my brother! Hey guys!”

Skills, Character & Leadership – Honed

Chad went up to the unit and Alex and I were watching the soldiers be put into a regiment of some sort from a distance. We saw this one guy. I said, “Alex, look at him. Look at that guy – his movements are right on target and everything. He is really squared away.” Alex agreed, “Yes, he is. Dad, that’s Chad.” I said, “That’s not Chad.” He said, “Yeah. He is. Dad, that’s Chad.” When the guy turned around, I could not believe that was Chad. I just couldn’t fathom that in my head.

Chad began to tell us about that weekend. They had gone up to their unit that Friday night – and it was really cold. Chad became the cadre, which was one of the things he told me he wanted to make. Cadre. The cadre is the commander of the unit when the drill and commander are out. He wanted that so bad and worked so hard for it.

So, that day before Chad’s drill and commander left, they said to Chad that that night the men were to sleep outside, but that Chad could sleep inside. When they left, Chad told his men they had to sleep outside, but he said, “I’m sleeping with you. We’re all sleeping outside.”

One soldier said, “I can’t sleep outside because I didn’t bring my gear to sleep outside.” Chad said, “Well, I’ll tell you what, you and me are gonna make a trip to Wal-Mart and we’re gonna get you everything you need to sleep outside tonight, and I’ll share my outdoor gear with you.” The other soldiers said, “You’re the cadre. You don’t have to sleep outside.” Chad reiterated, “If my men are outside, I’m sleeping outside.” They all slept outside.

The Blueberry Pie of Happiness

One night, the drill sergeant at the unit told all the soldiers to gather around him. He told them they’d start on his right and go around. “I want you to tell me what makes you happy,” he ordered the men. Each soldier answered and the last one in line was Chad. “Alright. Chad, what makes you happy?” the drill asked. “My family makes me happy,” Chad replied.

The drill got up, kicked his stool off to the side, and began to walk away.

“Drill sergeant! What makes you happy?” someone hollered.

The drill turned around and looked at the group. “Which one of you hollered that? Which one of you? I want to know who it was!” he demanded. “I did, drill sergeant,” Chad said as he raised his hand. The drill sergeant said, “Well, Edmundson, if you want to know what makes me happy, I’ll tell you.” He came back and sat down on the stool and said, “Chad, when I was a young man my mother would give me a coffee can and she would send me out into the woods to collect blueberries. When I would fill that can with blueberries, I would take that can home to my mother and she would make me a blueberry pie. That is what made me happy.”

That unit went through and then came the next month’s unit. The drill sergeant said he was up in his office and he heard the outside door open and “Drill sergeant! Drill sergeant! Drill sergeant!” He wondered who in the world was inside his facility screaming and hollering. He swung the office door open, looked down, and saw Chad. “Edmundson! What are you doing, Edmundson?!” he demanded. Chad said, “Drill sergeant, I’m here to make you happy.” Chad handed him a homemade blueberry pie.

You could make us smile just by saying, “Hello.” Your smile brought happiness to many people.

Alex’s Memories

Memories of Chad by His Brother – Alex Edmundson

“He’d eat all the food in the house before me or my sisters ever got a chance to eat it and slurped his cereal like an animal, but I distinctly remember him putting others first whenever he had the chance. It sounds cliché but he would literally give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. The military became his passion after he joined.

He took me fishing a few times and it was never about catching fish, it was always about finding the perfect spot or just enjoying the time outside.

He knew I was a car kid so when he bought his first car (a Dodge Neon) he offered to take me to school in it. I said yes and he made sure to show me just how fast his little Neon could go.”

– Alex Edmundson, Brother

Jessica’s Memories

Memories of Chad by His Sister – Jessica Leader

“When we were younger, we fought like cats and dogs. I was older and bigger, for a while, and I used to “beat him up”. He was stronger than me, but he never hit me back. He could have whipped my butt, but he never did.

We had lots of people come to us with stories about Chad after he died. I knew he was a great guy, but we learned that a lot of other people thought so, too.

When we got older, we became friends and I stopped trying to beat him up. He taught me how to play Texas Hold Em. Our last Christmas together, we played a karaoke game, even though none of us can sing!”

– Jessica Leader, Sister

A Hero to Remember

Reflections On Chad’s Life by Rachael Poplaski

Rachael Poplaski

24 April 2013

A Hero to Remember

A community is a close knit family. People love, take care of, and support each other in times of hardship and need. Communities are a living and learning experience as well as a way of life. They honor events and members often participate in many things together. In order to support a fallen soldier and to give back to someone who gave his own life for us, my community rallies together at an event that is not only fun and a wonderful cause, but raises money to support a foundation that was established to honor the life of a local hero.

On May 20, 2009, Specialist Chad A. Edmundson was killed in the line of duty while serving his country during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was just twenty years old, five years older than me, to be exact. This is an age that is too young to pass away, an age where one’s whole life is still ahead of them. There are many things I distinctly remember about Chad: he was always extremely nice to anyone he ever spoke to, he cared greatly for family and friends alike, he was always goofing around and cracking jokes, and he was constantly smiling. No matter when I saw him or what kind of mood he was in, he would have a smile on his face. One of Chad’s favorite things to do was skateboard. He also loved fishing and would often take his little brother with him. Chad loved bowling as well and was an amazing artist. Anyone from my town would express these exact words about him. Chad was a loving individual who gave his life doing something he loved.

Chad enlisted with the military between his junior and senior years of high school. He graduated in June of 2008 and shortly after was deployed to Iraq after completing basic and advanced training. When he joined the military, he became a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Company B, Second Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade, Frankstown Armory Unit and served at Camp Liberty, Iraq.

The 56th Stryker Brigade completed many different and difficult tasks while stationed in Iraq. They often went on presence patrols where they walked around the towns and talked to locals, they did counter QDF’s where they sat in huge fields all night long to watch for the enemy, they did raids on high value targets, and often did two missions a day. One of the simpler, stress-free tasks that the brigade took part in was the building of fire departments, schools, and water systems for the local towns. Not more than a year after his deployment did the horrible, unspeakable event take place. Chad’s brigade was walking through a town in Iraq during a presence patrol when the IED went off that took his life.

When Chad’s memorial service was held, my entire community went to the church to honor his life. Since there were so many people who wanted to attend, the only way to get to the church was on a bus that was provided. It was one of the biggest processions I have ever seen in my tiny town that consists of just over twelve hundred people. The line to the evening viewing was about two and a half hours long. There were hundreds of people waiting to honor the life of a fallen soldier. There were also flowers everywhere and many photos of Chad’s sparkling, smiling face. People were there from all over Pennsylvania, not just my community. It was definitely evident that many people greatly cared for and respected this young man and wanted to show their support in any way possible. “It was very touching that so many people came; the whole church was filled and people were even standing all along the back,” said Jessica Edmundson Leader, Chad’s sister.

About a year after Chad’s death, Chad’s immediate family, and some friends who served with him, started a foundation in his honor. They named it Spc. Chad A. Edmundson Memorial Foundation. As stated on the foundation’s Facebook page, its mission is “to support our active duty military personnel and their families in times of need, to support our veterans and veteran’s projects, and to inspire Americanism and Patriotism in our communities.” All the money that is raised through this program goes towards helping soldiers and their families. The foundation gives donations to soldiers and or their families who may be going through a similar situation that the Edmundson family experienced.

Currently, the foundation is made up of approximately twenty members, some of which are Chad’s family, members from the Williamsburg Community, and soldiers who knew Chad from serving with him. The president of the foundation currently serves in the military and the vice president is retired from the military. Two of the original members of the foundation include the president, Sgt. Brian Wertz, and Chad’s father, Roy Edmundson. There are many other original members who still support the foundation today but there are also some members who have left the foundation for various reasons.

Each May since 2010, the foundation hosts a Remembrance Day to honor Chad and other Pennsylvania military personnel. The biggest fundraiser that takes place is the Dice Run, a motorcycle rally where over two hundred motorcycles come together to travel over one hundred miles. The rally begins at the local park in my town where all of the other Remembrance Day events are being held. For as far as the eye can see, there are motorcycles and people awaiting the start of the journey. Throughout the day at the park there is food, music, vendors, door prizes, and a dunking booth. This year the foundation is also having a remembrance booth for families with fallen heroes to display a photo of their loved one. This booth’s goal is to recognize all of the Pennsylvania fallen. The Remembrance Day is an all-day event; everyone from my community attends at some point during the day.

Another fundraiser that the foundation has is the Annual Fallen Heroes Football Classic. This event takes place in the fall at my high school’s football field. The high school band plays and the color guard proudly display our country’s flag. The football game is played between the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and local firemen, police, EMS, and correctional officers. Since this event is also right in town, many community members attend to show their support and to have fun watching the game where all proceeds go towards the foundation.

This year, the foundation will be attending a ruck sack march at the end of April. It is called the March for the Fallen and is a twenty-eight mile march in honor of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. One of the foundations members, Chad’s father, will personally be walking this march. At the beginning of April, the foundation was at the Duncansville Armory and Readiness Center. This center was hosting an open house for the public to come and view combat vehicles and weapons and to meet with local troops. The Chad A. Edmundson Foundation was there to advertise for their Remembrance Day and to also speak with anyone interested in it.

In order for the foundation to keep everything organized and plan for each event, they meet once a month to discuss ideas. Sometimes the members break into small groups to plan the events then they bring all of their ideas together at the monthly meetings. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to keep this going so having the help of everyone involved in definitely a plus. As for advertising the Dice Run, the foundation puts up flyers in surrounding counties as well as advertises on the radio and local news stations.

At the park, where the Remembrance Day takes place, are statues that are dedicated to Chad and all who have served our country. Along with the statues are plaques that state who they honor. They are there to honor the lives of men that have been lost as they defended our wonderful country and to serve as a reminder of the dedication and effort each of the individuals possessed. The statues mean a lot to my community as they constantly remind us of these brave, heroic people.

When the tragic event took place in May of 2009, my entire community came together to support and care for the Edmundson family. They wanted to be there for them and help them every step of the way. The Edmundson family recognized this and wanted to be able to give back not only to their son but also to their community for all the support they were given during that time of need. Each year, the Spc. Chad A. Edmundson Memorial Foundation has grown and improved and I would expect it to continue to flourish in years to come. The foundation, along with its events, is a great cause that I hope will live on long into the future.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13