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Edmond I. Edwards - 14SEP91.pdf

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CIVIL AIR PATROL
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW

WNHC 34.91-2
MR. EDMOND I, EDWARDS

N AT I O N A L H I S T O R I C A L C O M M I T T E E
Headquarters Civil Air Patrol
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama

C I V I L A I R PAT R O L
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM

I nterv ~ ew
of
M r. E d m o n d I . E d w a r d s

by
C o l o n e l L e s t e r E . H o p p e r, C A P

Date: 14 Septembel~" 19912
Location: Rehoboth, Delaware

ACCESS AGREEMENT

i","

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS: .T h a t

I .

~ ' . t ~ # ' ~ o ~ P

~ o

~ ~ ~

have

this

day

participated in an oral-magnetic-taped interview with covering my
best recollections of events and e~periences which may be of
historical significance to the Civil Air Patrol.
I understand that the *tape(s) and the transcribed
manuscript resulting therefrom will be accessioned into the Civil
Air Patrol's Historical Holdings. In the best interest of the
C i v i l A i r P a t r o l , I d o h e r e b y v o l u n t a r i l y g i v e , t r a n s f e r, c o n v e y,
and assign all right, title, and interest in the memoirs and
remembrances contained in the aforementioned magnetic tapes and
manuscript to the Civil Air Patrol. to have and to hold the same
forever, hereby relinquishing for myself, my executors,
administrators, heirs, and assigns all ownership, right, title,
and interest therein to the donee expressly on the condition of
strict observance of the following restrictions:

DONOR
Dated
Accepted on behalf of the Civil Air Patrol
Dated

0

°~

C I V I L A I R PAT R O L O R A L H I S T O R Y I N T E R V I E W S

Civil

Ai~" Patrol 0ral History interviews were initiated in early
-- .

1982

by

Lt.

Col.

Lester

E.

Hopper,

C A P,

of

the

Civil Ai[

Patrol's National Historical Committee. The overall purpose of
these

interviews

is

to

record

for

posterity

the

activities

of

selected r:~embers of the Civil Air Patrol.

The principle goal of these histories is to increase the base of
knowledge relating to the early accomplishments of Civil Air
Patrol members who in their own unique way contributed t,? the
defense ~:,~ our great country. Certainly not of a secondary
nature is the preservation of the contributions of individuals as
Civil Air Patrol continues its growth.

FOREWORD

T h e f o l l o w i n g i s a t r a n s c r i p ~. i o n o f a n o r a l h i s t o r y i n t e r v i e w
,.

recorded ,.;,n magnetic tape. Since only minor ememdations have been
made. the reader should consister, tly bear in mind that he i8

reading a transcript of spoken rather than the written word.
A d d i t i o n a l l y. n o a t t e m p t t o c o n fi r m t h e . a c c u r a c y o f t h e i n f o r m a tion contained herein has been made. As a result, the transcript
reflects the interviewee's personal recollections of a situation
as he remembered it at the time of the interview.

Editorial notes and additions made by Civil Air Patrol historians
are enclosed in brackets. If feasible, first name. rank or titles
are also provided. Any additions, deletions and changes

~ub~e-

quently ~:~ade to the transcript by the interviewee are not indicated. R,~searchers may wish to listen to the actual interview
tape prior to ¢:it.ing the transcript.

SUMMARY OF CONTENTS

f,:r. Edward~: starta: t hl~ oral hi~tol'y interview with
personai background infoi-mat}(,n, his early experl~nce
~ , a v i a t i o n a n d p r o g r e s s e s t o h i s j o i n i n g ¢ , A , P, i n o r d e r
-~;, fly a[ the Clvil Air Pa[ro] Coastal Patrol Base 2 in
i4ehoboth. Delaware. His description of hi~ acziv~ie~
while at Rehoboth provides interesting information on
~he operations at that location. He covers in detail hi~
i:,azt of the daring rescue of a base alrc:rew which l]ad
,:'~'ashed at sea. This action resulted in his being awarded the Air Medal by President Franklln D. Roosevelt.
p e r s o n a l l y. A d d i t i o n a l l y h e r e c a l l s s e v e r a l i n ¢ i d e n Z 8
which occurred during his tenure at Rehoboth. His evaluation

of

base

effectiveness

and

overall

[~rovides valuable material in these areas.

operazions

GUIDE TO CONTENTS
Page

Subject

!

Farm ly Bgckg.~ound

1

Ear ly Interest 1n Aviation

2

Rebuilding of MC775 W

3

F i r s t I n t e r e s t i n C . A . P.

4

Holger Hoirris

4

Move to Rehoboth

4

Hugh Sharp

4

First Patrol Flight

5

R e a s o n f o r Vo l u n t e e r i n g f o r C o a s t a l P a t r o l

5

ShellyEdmundson

6

Joins U. S. Navy

6

S p o t t i n g a S u b m a r i n e ( F i r s t O n e b y C . A . P. )
Base Facilities

9

Ed Smith

9

Buzz Thompson

10

Base Duties

10

Machine Gunned Bodies

i i

Flight ~cl~edule
,Q

11

F I i g h t P. r o c e 4 u r e s

12

Recreation

! 2

Aircraft Types

13

Howard Turpin

t4

Arming Aircraft

15

Flight Procedures

! 6

Aircrew Dress

18

Rescue at Sea

19

Equipment Failures

19

Loss of Shelfus

2O

Landing Difficulty

21

Rescue of Henry Cross

21

Climbing onto Wing to Balance Aircraft

23

Cause of Crash

23

L o n g Ta x i t o S h o r e

24

Ta k e n i n To w b y U , S , C o a s t G u a Y d

Conditlon and Hospitalizat!on of Cross
Recommendation for Award of Air Medal
,Q

Presenta.tion,of Air Medal by PresJdent
Frankl~n D. Roosevelt
Award of Oak Leaf Cluster
Wa l k e r
$ykes Ewlng
Bad Weather Incident
Ralph Fidance
Va l u e o f C o a s t a l P a t r o l O p e r a t i o n s
Evaluation of Base Effectiveness
82

Miss Crilley {?) Incident

C I V I L A I R PAT R O L O R A L H I S T O R Y I N T E R V I E W
..'O~be r :
'"
Ta p e d I n t e r v i e w w i t h :
Locat ion :

WNHC34.91-2
M r. E d m o n d I . E d w a r d s
Rehoboth, Delaware
14 September 1991
Col. Lestor E~ Hopper, CAP

,a.te

'.'onducted by:

!.:

Eddie.

if

1

may,

lut's

start

with

just

a

little

discussion of your family bacl<ground, where you came
from, when you were born and how you got interested in
aviation.

I was born in Spartan. North Carolina. July the
twenty-third, 1913,

and in 1928 ~z~ father and mother

nloved to Delaware,

which I lived here in Delaware.
I just got interested in

airplanes

by seeing them fly over. So, I don't know,

just one

mostly ever since.

thing to another, I'm interested in airplanes

since

I

was a kid.

~: Well, you say when you were a kid, what, ten, teenager?

E : O h , w h e n I w a s f o u r t e e n y e a r s o l d . Ye s , I c a m e t o
Delaware when I was fourteen years old. Of course, down
i[i Carolina you rarely ever saw an airplane. I think I
only saw one or two before I came to Delaware= A~d
~¢!ng

those

airplanes

flying

across,

why

I

became

Edwards
o

with them,-you know, started

reading maga-

-i',-.e~. and anything I could,find about it.

Ot course my

fascinated

f a t h e r, h e t h o u g h t t h a t w a s a g o o d w a y t O ) t h e

g Ya v e y 0 ~ d ,

,It the )**(,re he was against it. the more ] was rot it.
So

L a u g h t e r. )

then.

I

got

.~

first

flight

inst/uttion

~bout 1932

or '33 in a C-3 Aeronca at Patco Field at

coatesville,

Pennsylvania--not Coatesville, right next

t o Va l l e y F o r g e , I r e m e n ~ e r w e fl e w o v e r Va l l e y F o r g e .

ri: That was one of those great big forty-five ho~~epowz~ engines?

L:

Well, this had thirty-six horsepower.

H:

It wasn't even a big one! (Laughter-,)

~:

So then a year or so after that a friend of mine

bought a Waco primary glider, which he sold me half
lnterest

in,

and

I

flew

it

a

few

flights,

maybe

fifty

tlights, and then by taking some, a llttle instruction,
when I could scrape up enough money to get a little
flying time, and finally in 1937 I bought an airplane,
~hich was all experimental job. It had been built by a
fellow that worked for Bellanca. fellow by the name of
("arigliano. It was called the SC-I. and the identificat!on on ~t was 775W. I bought the airplane for seventytire dollars. It didn't have any engine in it, so I
2

Edwards
bought a run-out engine and a wrecked engine for twentyfive dollars. And om.the way down, I stopped by Freddie
Shallcross's and got a'prop, and I said that looks like
an OH-5 prop. He said, it is. I said, do you want to
s e l l i t . Ye s , I ' l l s e l l i t . W h a t d o y o u w a n t f o r J r,
i want ten dollars. I sa)d, I'll take it.

He sald. now

wait a minute, it's got a crack in it, a

longitudinal

crack, which was about so long and didn't

bother the

strength, so I bought a prop for ten dollars. So

I

built up one engine out of the two engines, and put

my

ten dollar prop on it and put it in my hundred and
dollar airplane

ten

and I've been flying ever since.

[ L a u g h t e r. )

H:

When did you get your license?

E:

I believe in 1940. My number is C-551-40.

H:

5 5 1 , t h a t ' s k i n d o f e a r l y. I k n o w y o u ' r e p r o u d o f

~ t . O k a y. H o w a b o u t y o u r fi r s t i n t e r e s t i n C i v i l A i r
Patrol. Where did you find out about it?

E: Well, you know the war came along there, and flying
was very restricted, but if you belonged to Civil Air
P a t r o l , w h y y o u c o u l d fl y, s o I j o i n e d u p , s o a s t o b e
a b l e t o fl y s o m e a n y w a y.

H:

O k a y, t h a t w a s w h e r e ?

Edwards

: At Wilmington,

And that was with Ho]ger Hoiriis, no doubt,

Holger HoJriis was th~ C,~ O, at that time,

~]:

Then you came down to Rehoboth?

E: That first flight that came down. There was a bunch
:;,f us, I believe it was in March. March or April of '42,
and I recall we came out of old Bellanca Field, and it
had been raining a lot and the field was soft, awfully
soft. and there was some question about, you know,
~akJng off, but finally we all got off and came down
without any accidents, Then we'd been here a day or so
and I went out on the first flight. I think Hugh
was the pilot in that stagger" wing Beech he had,

Sharp
I just

went along as observer.

H:

So

the

first

official

flight

out

of

Rehoboth

Beach

was Hughie Sharp and yourself, then?

E~ Well, there was two airplanes. I don't recall who
was flying the other one. As a matter of fact I wasn't
oven the co-pilot with Hughie. I was riding in the back
seat. but I do remember Hughie was the pilot.

Edwards

H:

But that was, in ~.ffect, the first patrol,

~;:

The

first

flight,

the

first

patrol.

H: Although you were Base Number 2, Number 1 was

tech-

oically established before you all, youflew the

fi r s t

flights down here out of Rehoboth, not out of up

there,

A little bit of additional thoughts on this thing,

what

caused you to volunteer to come down here and fly coastal patrol.

E: So I could fly. Simple as that, so I could fly.

I

was married and my little daughter was, oh, about four
months old, and I was working for duPont, and I said, to
b e c k w i t h t h e j o b , I ' l l g o d o w n a n d g o fl y, w h i c h ~ I c a m e
~town

and

stayed

here

for,

until

late

in

the

fall.

During the summer some time, Shelly Edmondson was one of
t h e fl i e r s h e r e , a n d h i s b r o t h e r, Wo o d y. w a s fi x e d b a s e
operator at Lynchburg, Virginia, and he was a flight
examiner. So Bernie Mulliken and I went down there and
took a little time from him and took flight checks, and
[ got a commercial license, with the intentions of going
in the Army Air Corps, And t.his Bernie came

down on0

day after he'd been up to Wilmington and said. I was up
at the Fourth Naval District and they're looking for.
pilots up there, he said, I think I'm going to go in the
N a v y. W h y d o n ' t y o u g o u p a n d t a l k t o t h e m ? S o I s a i d ,

Edwards

w e l l I g o t a d a y o ff c o m i n g u p h e r e a n y d a y, s o
~.ide up and see them.. So [ went up and I was in
Navy before I got out. (Laughter.)

Before you knew it?

Z:

B e f o r e I k n e w i t , I w a s i n t h e N a v y. B e r n i e

never

d i d g e t i n t h e N a v y.

} i : H e r e c r u i t e d y o u a n d s t a y e d o u t h i m s e l f . O k a y. b a c k
to your Civil Air Patrol, when you first flew down here,
.,vhat did you see?

E: Oh lord, I don't know, not very much. I came down
as a co-pilot, because I didn't have a great of experie n c e , s o I w a s h a p p y t o c o m e d o w n h e r e i n a n y c a p a c i t y,
so for, I don't know, for a month or so, I rode more or
less as a co-pilot. I remember John Benedict, who was a
f e l l o w w h o h a d b e e n fl y i n g a r o u n d h e r e f o r ? e a Y. ~ ~ ~ h ~
~an an airport north of Wilmington called Benedict's
Dust Bowl, and I went out with him, and I forget who the
other pilot was. I think he was a fellow by the name of
Harry Bland, and he had an observer, and we were out
here off Rehoboth and right east of Cape May l~ke. and
of course I always figured a tanker was a low Bhip,
Fight down to the water. Looked out here, and here was,
I thought it was a tanker, right low, and all at once

Edwards

the darned thing started to crash dive. I figured there
~.:as 8omething wrong t#lgre, so that wa~ the first subma~ine, I th~nk, that was-sighted by any Civil Air Patrol.

H~

Now when was that?

About April or May of '42.

H:

Well, you'd been in operation..

E: First they gave us a really cranky story on that.
Now I don't know how true this is, but it does make a
g o o d s t o r y. T h a t h e b e c a m e s t u c k o u t t h e r e i n t h e m u d ,
and they went out and captured him and drug him up to
P h i l a d e l p h i a N a v y Ya r d .

H.

T h a t m a k e s a g o o d s t o r y.

E: I've heard that several times, I've heard that they
,~id.

I hope that's true, but we did sight the first

submarine that the Civil Air Patrol saw.

H: But going back a little bit, before you sighted that
first submarine, when you first came down here, what
were the facilities like? Did you have a good runway?

E.:

It always was grass. It never was anything but

uras8, but this is sand out here, and it would dry out

Edwards

1eal soon. It never bothered us on account of mud, but
we did have a B-17 come in there one time. Of course,
~ t ' s h e a v y, y o u k n o w, a n d i t s a n k . Yo u k n o w. i t w e n t
down so deep we had to wait until the ground got firmer,
but we had no problem w~th the field. At that time we
had four runways.

H: Dedicated runways, so you didn't have any cross wind
problems.

Because

E: Oh. you could land into the wind always.
there was this one. that one, one went this

way and

another went way down in back of the woods.

H: But you didn't have any permanent hangars or anything?

E : Ye s , t h e r e w e r e h a n g a r s t h e r e . T h e r e w a s s o m e b o d y,
I think Cap. Wenyon, over here, which ended up flying
~ome with us, had been flying out of there, running the
airport. There was one or two hangars, I believe there
were two. Of course they had fuel, too, you know.

H : O k a y, s o b a s i c a l l y y o u v o l u n t e e r e d f o r a c t i v e
because you wanted to fly airplanes.

E:

That's it. That's the bottom line.

duty

Edwards

H : Yo u w e r e h e r e . l i k e y o u s a y, f r o m t h e b e g i n n i n g t o
aDout when did you go rn the Navy?

E:

I think I was sworn in in November.

I actually

e i g n e d u p i n J u l y, b u t I w a s w a i t i n g f o r a n o p e n i n g d o w n
.at Corpus Christi. and I believe it was November..

H..

NovenLber of forty-two.

E:

Ye s , f o r t y - t w o .

H~

WTio were your special buddies down there?

E:

Oh, I had some buddies, I had Ed Smith° whom we all

knew real well.

H:

Now, who was Ed Smith, just for the record?

E: He was the mechanic out there. He was in charge of
~:he maintenance, awfully nice man. Then a fellow by the
name of Buzz Thompson, I'd known for quite a while.

He

was quite a pilot, and as a matter of fact he and some
guy got a bet on here one time. Buzz wanted to jump out
of the airplane over Rehoboth Bay without a parachute,
five

dollar

airplane:

bet,
Well,

but
I

the

said,

condition
Buzz,

I'm

was
not

that
about

I

fly
to

th~
do

it

!:,ecause, you damn fool, you get out there, you can fly

Edwards

about sixty-f~ve miles an hour, but just as soon as
open that door, you and I and the airplane and all
i s g o i n g i n R e h o b o t h B a y.

~{:

Beside~: that they'd take your

license away for

k 111 i n g s o m e b o d y.

E:

H:

Yo u m i g h t k i l l y o u r s e l f t o o .

Just as a rehash, what were your spe¢ifi(: d,itie8

when y o u g o t d o w n h e r e ?

Well, to fly patrol planes, go out and observe and
see what can you find, sight any enemy action, and there
was a..we never saw any survivors out there, but we did
see some bodies that had been machine gunned in life
boats.

H:

Yo u d i d a c t u a l l y s e e s o m e ?

E: We actually saw those. They were off of, let's see.
t h e y w e r e a b o u t o ff , n o t a s f a r d o w n a s O c e a n C i t y, b u t
say Indian River Inlet. out about ten or fifteen, twenty
miles.

H:

Were they Americans or English?

Edwards

don't know. They were just, a life boat down
well, you cou4d see they were dead, And then a

[here,

.

destroyer went to thei:

They had torpedoed the ship

t t,at they were on ar, d.. them they got in the life

boats

and the submarine had torpedoed the survivors,

~

What was your flying schedule?

d a y,

Did you fly once a

t w i c e a d a y, h o w l o n g ?

E:

Tw i c e a d a y.

H:

H o w ' d y o u fl y ? Yo u t o o k o f f a n d w h a t , fl e w a r o u t e ?

Oh yes, we had definite routes that we went. There
a couple of them, One went out to, well, out from
C a p e M a y, o u t t h a t w a y, a n d a n o t h e r w e n t d o w n t o W i n t e r

Q u a r t e r S h o a l s o ff o f O c e a n C i t y, s o w e p u t i n , a s I
recall about two hours duration, the flights were,

H:

And you flew in pairs all the time?

E:

Always in pairs.

H:

What altitude did you fly?

E:

Oh,

five

hundred

feet,

four

$ay a five hundred foot altitude.

to

five

hundred

feet,

I

Edwards

H: And you'd come in and rest between your morning
flights and evening fl.ights, or what? What did you do
in your spare time?

Well, we played poker+. for one thing.

H:

G o o d a s a n y.

E~ Well. usually there were some collateral duties, you
know, you have to help out the maintenance or something,
Yo u ' d k e e p b u s y.

H:

Well. then you flew for five or six months or so

] , e r e . r o u g h l y t w i c e a d a y. W h a t k i n d o f a i r p l a n e s w e r e
you flying?

E: Well, we started out we had Stinson Voyagers, and if
you're not familiar, the Voyager is a little S~inson,
three place job. and some of them had seventy-five
horsepower Continentals, but the better ones had a
Dinety horsepower Franklin in them. The little Continental kind of beat itself to death, supposed to
~ixty-five

horsepower

and

they

rewed

it

up

seventy-five horsepower. And then we had some

to

be a
be

a

Fairchild

24'~, which were probably the nicest airplanes we had,
and they had, most of them had 145 Warners in them, and
some of them had Rangers in them, 145 to 175. But those

Edwards

were our nicest airplanes. Then we had that old duck,
you know that Sikoreky amphibian. And then we had a
couple of others, we bad a Monocoupe for a while until
~3omebody tore, went into the woods out there with it and
1. hat ended it. But mostly Fairchild 24's.

(:}kay° well the Fairchild 24 was the workhorse.

E:

That was the nicest airplane we had, nice

able

comfort-

a i r p l a n e , a n d e a s y t o fl y.

H : Yo u

didn't

have

any

of

the

big

Stinsons

Cessnas or anything.

E: Well, occasionally we had a..we had two Cessna Air
Masters,

which

I

dearly

loved

to

fly,

It's

a

nice

airplane, particularly the smaller one, the one that had
a 145 Warner in it, and it was a beautiful airplane to
fly. The other one had, it was a fancier one, cost a
l o t m o r e m o n e y, b u t i t d i d n ' t fl y n e a r a s n i c e , a n d t h e n
one fellow, Howard Turpin, came down here, he had a
Staggerwing Beech, and some other guy came up from down
i n Te x a s , h e h a d a W a c o s t r a i g h t w i n g w i t h a J - 5 e n g i n e
in

it.

I

think

after

I

left

here

they

did

get

a Waco

Cabin in here, but that was after I was gone.

H: It's interesting to hear you relate that the major
, g i r. p l a n e w a s t h e Wa c o . .

Edwards

E:

Fairchild.

H:

Fairchild.

particularly

That was an awfully n~ce alrplane, not
f a s t b u t c o m f o r t a b l e a n d e a s y t o fl y.

H:

N o w, w e r e y o u h e r e w h e n t h e y a r m e d t h e m ?

E:

Ye s , y e s , I w a s h e r e w h e n t h e y a r m e d t h e m .

H:

How were they armed?

E: I forget what the weight of that bomb was, a hundred
and

twenty-five,

a

hundred

and

fifty

pounds,

but

we

carried one bomb.

Hi One bomb, a hundred pounds. And did they rig any
depth charges on any of the aircraft?

El

Seems

like

later

on

I

did

hear

that

they

did

put

some depth charges, two hundred and fifty pound depth
charges on, but most of them was a hundred pound demolition bombs, all purpose bor~s,

H:

A hundred pound GP-Mark I, huh? How did an airplane

Edwards

fly

pound

when you hung two people in it and a hundr'ed

}:,or~ t h a t d i d n ' t h a v e m u c h c l e a r a n c e ?

E: Well, the Fairchild 24 flew fairly good. but the
little Voyager, it had its work cut out for it.

It

wasn't too fast to start out with, but the 24's. they
,:lid pretty good.

H: Now, when you jumped in the airplane and took off
and flew out there, how far out in the ocean did you
fl y, b y t h e w a y ?

E: Normally about the farthest out you'd ~et would be
t w e n t y - fi v e o r t h i r t y m i l e s . Yo u ' d g o o u t a n d t h e n fl y
down parallel to the coast to Winter Quarter Shoals, and
I d o n ' t k n o w, W i n t e r Q u a r t e r S h o a l s i s a b o u t t w e n t y o r
twenty-five miles off, something like that.

H:

Did you fly that pattern all the time, or

pick up convoys and follow them.

E:

No, we flew that pattern all the time.

~-egular pattern laid out.

H : O k a y, y o u d i d n ' t f o l l o w c o n v o y s , y o u
~he area.

Z:

No, we just watched for any submarines.

just

war ched

Edwards

11 : R e g r e s s i n g j u s t a l i t t l e b i t , w h e n y o u g o t i n t h e
~irplane, how were you dressed and equipped? Did you
have any special protection?

}::

Just your normal clothes,'but you had a.life

jacket

~., [1.

H:

Just a regular old Mae West?

E:

A regular old Mae West.

H:

The so-called Zoot Suits, and special equipment..

E: They came later, after I left here. Of course it
~ t a r t e d c o m i n g o n c o l d w e a t h e r, y o u k n o w, a n d t h e n t h e y
got the exposure suits, but when I was here you just
d r e s s e d r e g u l a r, n o r m a l l y, a n d w i t h t h e l i f e j a c k e t s .

H: Of course, you had the inevitable red epaulets and
uobody liked them.

E:

Nobody liked them is right.

} ~ T h a t ' s t h e s t o r y I g e t a n y w a y. We t a l k e d a l i t t l e
bit about the unusual, and I call it unusual incident of
s p o t t i n g a s u b m a r i n e . Yo u s a i d i t w a s o n t h e s u r f a c e ?

Edwards

E: It was on the surface and it was almost due east of
Rehoboth. If you go out from Rehoboth and come out from
C a p e M a y, o u t t h e r e m a y b e s a y fi f t e e n m i l e s , t e n , fi f t e e n m i l e s e a c h w a y, t h a t ' s w h e r e i t w a s .

It

was

right

up on the surface.
H: Did you drop down on him?

K: No, this Benedict was flying the airplane.

Poor

John, he's dead and gone now, but he never was real
sharp with the radio. Of course, most airplanes didn't
have radios at that time, and didn't have that trailing
antenna, you know, that you'd tear off over the fence if
you forgot about it. And John, the only thing he could
ever learn to do was switch from trail to fixed antenna,
a n d h e c o u l d n ' t e v e r c o m m u n i c a t e w i t h a n y b o d y, s o h e
finally said, you'll have to run back to the base and
tell them about this.

H:

Yo u w e r e fl y i n g t h e r i g h t s e a t t h e n ?

E:

I was flying the right seat.

H : T h a t ' s a l l y o u d i d , w a s c o m e b a c k t o t h e b a s e . Yo u
Feally

don't

know

anything

other..

Did

you

see

him

actually run aground?

Ei

Yo u c o u l d n ' t t e l l t h a t . T h e o n l y t h i n g , w e s a w h i m

Edwards

go out of sight in the water.

H: Because there's been a story about one of them near
('ape May that they saw stick in the mud.

E: Well. yoll couldn't see anything sticking out of the
water. If he got stuck in the mud, he was down undeF
the water, down in the water some place.

H:

Then

you

continued

to

fly

with

the

routine.

Of

course one of the most interesting things, Eddie, if you
will, and I'd really like to get your version of the day
of the crash, your activities with Hugh Sharp,
ended up in the award of the Air Medal. So just

that
speak

all you'd like.

E: Well, as I recall it, and my memory is pretty vivid
¢,n that, it was roughly the middle of the afternoon some
time, we got this call that one of the airplanes..

H:

That was in July?

J u l y, I g u e s s - - t h e m i d d l e o f t h e s u m m e r, i t w a s n i c e
warm, beautiful weather, that one of our

ai~eraft

w a s d o w n o ff o f O c e a n C i t y, M a r y l a n d . T h e o t h e r a i r plane was circling. So Hugh said to me, he said to

get

t h e e q u i p m e n t a l l r e a d y, w h a t e v e r y o u t h i n k w e n e e d

Edwards

there,

and

I want you to go with me on this rescue

flight.

Some of the boys around there had made up

some

markers

to throw out like if you spot something.

It's

easy to miss it, if you ever did anything

like

real
that.

Yo u s e e i t , a n d t h e n y o u d o n ' t s e e i t . S o

they

made

up something, I forgot what it was made of,

they

,.'°

got

i t f r o m t h e d u P o n t C o m p a n y, t h e y p u t i t i n p a p e r

bags,

about a four or six pound paper bag, and when it

hit the water it would spread out and make a big marker
8o you could mark things. So they had a bunch of those
bags and I got, I don't know how many now, six or eight.
Then you always needed rope, that's another thing I
know, so I looked over and there was a coil of rope, so
!

got

was

this
the

coil

main

of

rope

things

I

and
did.

put
8o

it

in

then

there.
we

took

So
off

that

and

lJeaded down there and we found the other airplane right
a w a y, h e w a s c i r c l i n g t h e f e l l o w s i n t h e w a t e r.

H:

Who was it that was in the water?

E: Henry Cross. It was Henry Cross and a fellow by the
n a m e o f S h e ] f u s w a s w i t h h i m a s c o - p i l o t . I n c i d e n t a l l y,
we never did find Shelfus. But anyway we flew around
there a couple of times and pretty soon we spotted the
b o d y, s o I t h o u g h t w e ' d m a k e a m a r k e r, s o I t h r e w o n e o f
These things out and there wasn't a damn thing, there
wasn't any mark. I threw another one out

and there

:,lasn't any mark. After I'd thrown about thre~ of them

Edwards

out I looked and all I had was bags of sand. (Laughter.)
We could see the water was kind of rough down there and
Hugh said, well, you know, prepare to land. This old
Sikorsky

was

like

a

boat,

if

you

know

what

it

looks

like, you can see from the pictures, it's just like a
boat underneath the wing. But when you get down in it
the hatch involves two doors, something like this, and
had a bar like you see on some old cellar doors, that
had a bar that locked it, and it had this bar, an al~ni,~.Lm bar about so long, and I said, Hughie, do you think
! ought to get that bar, because sometimes it kind of
~ticks, because it was rough as the dickens. Do you
{hink I better get that danged latch undone? He said,
yes, I think you better do that, so I get the thing, and
about the time I get it, it stuck a little bit, Hugh hit
the water, and I went down in the deck, right down on
the floor. He gave it the power and went up

again, and

a b o u t t h e t i m e I g o t h e r, b o y, h e d o w n e d m e a g a i n . S o
the after the third time he stuck to the water. Then I
got the hatch open, and the waves were rather high.

and

I couldn't see anything, so I climbed out up there

and

i'd stand on the fuselage, the cabin part there,

and

hold on to the top of the wing and look around,

and

finally

was

I

spotted

this

fellow

in

the

water,

so

I

hollering instructions down through to Hugh about steering him over there, so then we got close to the fellow,
,and then I started in to get my rope. you know, to get a

Edwards

rope to throw him a rope. I pulled it out and I had a
piece of rope about eight or ten feet long. I thought,
t h a t ' s f u n n y, a n d a l l I ' d g o t t e n w a s a b u n c h o f t i e - d o w n
~opes that Smitty had cut all up in these pieces for
tie-downs. That's

all

I

had,

these

pieces

of

rope.

Well, that was a lost cause, so Hugh got fairly close to
.o'°

him, and I climbed out on this outrigger wing f]oag,
which you had one on each side, and reached down and
grabbed him by the arm. When I did he let out a yell
[hat you wouldn't believe, because the salt from the
salt water and the gasoline had burned the skin. he
wasn't tanned, you know, he let out this god-awful yell,
~:o then I got squared away and I got him by the hand and
pulled him over and finally I got him in the airplane.

And that was who?

Ei That

was

Cross,

Henry

Cross.

So

we

got

hJm

in

there, and he was delirious, half-way delirious, and
~avJng and ranting and carrying on, and said he was
freezing, so I pulled off my shirt and wrapped the shirt
around him for whatever good that did, and then in a few
minutes Hugh said to me, he said, you know I damaged
that

left

wing

float

when

I

landed.

He

said,

we're

taking on water, this thing's going to capsize. I said,
well I can take care of that. So I climbed out on the
other one and sat there to keep the airplane right side
,!p= Of course, I've had people say what an ordeal I

Edwards

went through. I didn't have anything to what Hugh had.
He was in that cabin with this delirious man carrying on
and he was trapped, and I was sitting out on the strut.
I could hear him some, but not like Hughie could. So I
felt pretty bad about that, because Hughie had quite an
ordeal. And so we started to-taxi in a westerly direction, and we taxied for about two hours, as I recall,
and we met, the Coast Guard came out.

H:

Why didn't you just take off and come back to shore?

Oh, you couldn't take off.

Oh, hell, you couldn't

take

off, oh, that water, oh, those waves, good

God.

Good

gosh, when I was down there sometimes, the

damn

waves

were higher than the airplane. I don't know

h i gh

they were running, but they were high as

how
this

danged ceiling.

H:

So you had eight or ten foot seas.

E: There was no way under the sun you could ever

think

about taking off.

H:

Yo u d i d n ' t k n o w t h a t b e f o r e y o u l a n d e d .

E: Well, we knew it was pretty rough, but that
needed picking up, so we landed.

fellow

Edwards

H:

Now,

still

b a c k - t r a c k i n g . Yo u

said

when

you

flew

over, when you spotted them, you only saw the one, you
didn't see Shelfus?

E~

Never saw the other one. Nobody's ever seen
-° .

thing of the other one. He went down with the ship.
t~nderstand, I believe Shelly Edmondson was flying
other airplane, and he said that he evidently did a high
speed stall, spun over the top, and made about a turn
and a half and hit the water right square on the nose.
He said he went down and then came back up, somehow
Henry got out, but the other fellow didn't.

H:

The story is it was a high speed stall.

E : Ye s , j u s t a h i g h s p e e d s t a l l . H e d i d n ' t k n o w h o w t o
fly.

Pure

and

simple,

he

didn't

know

how

to

fly,

and

there was a lot of us down here didn't know how to f|y
either.
t r u t h ,

He wasn't the only one.
i t

w a s

n e v e r

t o l d .

O f

That's the Sod's

c o u r s e ,

e v e r y b o d y ' s

learned a lot about flying since then, but anyhow they
took us in tow.

H :

How long did you taxi before?

I'd say about two hours, as I recall.

Edwards

Was it dark by then?

H:

E:

No,

still

daylight. And

then

they

took

us

in

tow,

and by the time we got in to the Coast Guard Station, as
I recall, it was around one to two o'clock in the morning, we'll say one-thirty. "'-

H:

And it was dark then for sure.

E: Oh, it had been pitch black for a long time, because
i

recall,

after

it

got

dark,

I

dragged

my

feet

in

the

water, and the marine life, phosphorescence, the light.

H:

Yo u w e r e p l a y i n g .

E:

That's when my hands got frozen to the struts.

H : Yo u k n o w i t ' s a g o o d i d e a t o g o o n r e c o r d w i t h

your

comments about hands freezing to the struts. What

are

your comments about that?

E: I wonder who they are talking

about. It was st~6fler

time, nice and warm, and I was dragging my feet in the
water. (Laughter.)

H~

Well,

let's

say

they

had

poetic

license

and

your

hands were cramped. Instead of that you were out there

Edwards
p l a y i n g , d r a g g i n g y o u r f e e t i n t h e w a t e r, h a v i n g a g o o d
o l d t i m e . O k a y, w h a t w a s t h e c o n d i t i o n o f C r o s s w h e n
they got him back on land?

E~

He was in pretty sad shape. As I said, he was

delirious,

raving and ranting and carrying on

half
the

-o .

way in.

H: Obviously in shock, but what was the physical
jury?

~ W e 11 , h e h a d h i s b a c k w a s b r o k e n , a n d f r o m t h e b u r n s
h e g o t f r o m t h i s g a s o l i n e a n d s a l t w a t e r, h e g o t p h l e b i tis in his legs after that, and he was hospitalized for
a good long while.

Hi Where was he hospitalized, a civilian hospital or
the military?

E~

I think over here to Beebe Hospital in Lewes,

they

have a g o o d h o s p i t a l o v e r h e r e .

H:

O k a y, t h a t w a s m i l i t a r y ?

H~ Civilian. Coast Guard just took him directly to the
civilian hospital.

Edwards

E: I'm sure that's right, because we went to see him a
couple of times.

H: Just to set the record straight, was he paying
own hospital bills?

E:

'-'-

T h i s I d o n ' t k n o w.

H: I know you all were paying your own way on everything else, but I just thought I'd get that little bit
o f i n f o r m a t i o n . O k a y, s o y o u t h e n c a m e b a c k ,

and I'm

sure you flew some more after that, after that

particu-

far rescue attempt.

E:

O h , I fl e w o n t h e r e u n t i l I w e n t i n t h e N a v y.

H:

O k a y, a n d a g a i n , w h e n w a s i t y o u w e n t i n t h e N a v y ?

E: As I recall, I was sworn in in December,

November.

the latter part of November of forty-two,

H I W h a t w e r e t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s . . ( Ta p e c h a n g e . G a p i n
~ n t e r v i e w. Q u e s t i o n m u s t h a v e b e e n a b o u t r e c e i v i n g t h e
air medal,)

E:

I gathered from listening to him one time, he was

Edwards
asking some questions, he was applying for something, I
didn't know exactly what it was. And then I was down at
Corpus Christi in training° and I got orders to come to
Washington to receive a decoration from the President.

H:

So it really came as a surprise to you when you

the orders.

E: More or less as a surprise. It wasn't entirely out
of the blue, but it was, you know, I didn't expect it.

HI So actually you were presented the award by the
President himself.

By the President, President Roosevelt. Hugh Sharp
was

there, and Kene Mountain Landis, who was Secretary

of Defense at that time, he was there. I remember

Kene

Mountain Landis, he had a lot of gravy on his
( L a u g h t e r. )

HI Well, you just identified who the slightly
headed gentleman was in the picture with you and

baldPresi-

dent Roosevelt.

E:

And Hughie's wife was there, too.

Hi

Do you recall anything about what President

velt

said. or anything like that?

Roose-

Edwards

E: No, I don't. He impressed me, though, as being
rather outstanding man.

H: So you were probably the only man that went through
pilot training with an air me~al.

E:

H:

I probably was, yes.

Yo u

were still in pilot training at that

time,

right?

E:

Ye s , s t i l l i n t r a i n i n g .

H: Well, obviously you did a lot of flying

while you

were down here, because I believe you were

awarded a

second Air Medal.

E:

No, just one.

H:

We l l , a n o a k l e a f c l u s t e r.

E:

Well, I might have, yes.

H: When they awarded Air Medals, everybody who had over
t h r e e h u n d r e d h o u r s g o t o n e , Ye s , y o u a n d H u g h i e a r e
the only two CAPers who were ever awarded the Air .Medal

Edwards
with
Air

a n o a k l e a f c l u s t e r. W h e n e v e r y b o d y e l s e g o t t h e
M e d a l y o u g o t a n o a k l e a f c l u s t e r.

O k a y, l o o k i n g

back on that period that you were down here flying,

are

there any other little incidents, other than seeing

the

submarine, and the Cross rescue, that you recall?
° .

E~

Well, nothing outstanding. We had one fellow by the

n a m e o f Wa l k e r, t h a t w e n t u p a n d b o u g h t a F a i r c h i l d 2 4 ,
a beautiful airplane, 4121, he painted it chrome yellow
with black trim and black letters and everything. So
anyhow he came in here. and I don't know how much they
g o t a n h o u r, b u t t h e y g o t s o m u c h a n h o u r f o r t h e u s e o f
the airplane. So anyhow he said, this is the way to
spend the war, right here, collecting this money and
fl y i n g a fl i g h t o r t w o a d a y. S o t h e r e w a s a c o l d f r o n t
coming in one evening, weather forecast said it was
coming in. The weather was kind of bad, and I had
o p e r a t i o n s d u t y t h a t d a y, a n d I s a i d t o H u g h i e ' s n u n ~ e r
two man, Sykes Ewing, I said, Sykes, I think that one of
us ought to go out on this flight, because this weather
is kind of bad, and I am reluctant to send anybody out
there. I said, now if you'll take over here I'll go out
on this flight. He said, no, he said, I'll go. I said,
well, I'm perfectly willing to go. He said, no, you
stay here and I'll go. But anyhow he sent four airplanes, two in that direction and two in this direction~
And just getting close to dark, the danged front came
through, and the wind shifted better than ninety de-

Edwards

grees,

and they came in. They had taken off on this

runway

that went down kind of southeast. And they

tried

to land there, and one guy went down through the

woods

in a Stinson Voyager and between the first two

trees he came to, that's where he left the wings on that
one. Then I ran my car out,-shined it up on the other
r u n w a y, w h i c h i s a b o u t t h r e e h u n d r e d d e g r e e s s o a s t o
identify that that was where we wanted them to come in.
Then we called them on the radio to tell them the wind
had shifted, and we got them all down but one, this one
airplane. He came down and he touched down and then
he'd give it the power and go out.

It kept getting

darker and darker, and finally got so dark you couldn't
even see him when he was down. And he came around this
time and did the same thing and then the power was cut.
This Ralph Fidance was with him, and Ralph had had
enough, so he got down on the ground and he cut the
power so they'd stay on the ground, and it didn't damage
the airplane, it was all right, it ran out and came on
One thing about this Walker, though, he came down

in.
there

for about four or five days, every day he'd sit

there

and he wouldn't say a word, just like a man in a

trance.

After

going home.

H :

about

four

or

five

days

( L a u g h t e r. )

He had had enough of this crazy stuff,

he

said,

I'm

Edwards

E:

He had had enough.

H~ That happens. Okay, you got anything else that,
well, you were one of the unique ones who were able to,
w h o w e n t o n t o s e r v e i n t h e N a v y, a n d o b v i o u s l y t h a t p u t
a temporary halt to your, well put a hair to your
career. In light of your later experiences, how do
feel that this operation down here, do you feel like
was of some value?

E: Well, I think it was some value, because, more or
less, a morale, because we talked to somebody here,
H u g h i e o r s o m e b o d y, o r m a y b e i t w a s H o l g e r H o i r i i s , t h e
people that were on these merchant ships out there, said
it looks so good to look up there and see an airplane,
because the German submariners, like that submarine out
there, he didn't know what we were--just an airplane.
So when they would see us they would skedaddle, although
we couldn't be like with a pop-gun, you know, as far as
damage to them, but they didn't know that.

And the

merchant seamen said, it just makes us feel so good to
look up there and see you guys flying. So I think that
was the big thing, was morale for the Merchant Marine.

H:

Do you think they were effective

in

running

the

submarines off?

E:

I think it helped. Indeed I do, because they didn't

Edwards

know what kind of an airplane it was up there, so

they

couldn't take a chance.

H: How about the base itself? Do you feel like it was
pretty well run?
..'°

E: Very well run, very well run. This Hugh Sharp was a
fine man, that you would ever meet in your life. I just
consider it a great privilege to have known this man.

H:

I had the opportunity to meet him, doing a similar

thing to what we're doing. So he ran a good tight ship?

E: He ran a good tight ship, and he had enough out
t h e r e t o d r i v e h i m c r a z y, t o o . S o m e o f t h o s e d u d e s w e r e
mavericks, I'm telling you.

H:

E:

They had fun, huh?

O h , l o r d . I r e m e m b e r t h e y h a d a M i s s C r i l l e y. w h o

worked there in the office, and she was a kind of a.,

H:

What was her name?

E:

M i s s C r i l l e y.

H:

Crilley?

Edwards

E:

Crilley,

and

she

was

a

kind

of

a,

I

don't

know,

~edate, withdrawn, anything but extroverted. Some of
the boys out there held.parties, you know, they had a
lot of parties held, and they had an Army captain down
there in charge of the ordnance. So they were having a
party there one night, and they were having this party
and I guess they were having a great time, but Miss
C r i l l e y w a s n ' t t h e r e . N a t u r a l l y, s h e w a s n e v e r t h e r e ,
and somebody said, you know, where's Miss Cr~lley?
~)meone else said, well, she must be dead, because
anybody that's not at this party has to be dead. 8o
l e t ' s c a l l t h e u n d e r t a k e r a n d h a v e h i m p i c k u p t h e b o d y.
So they called the damn undertaker and got him out
there,

and

Miss

Crilley,

she

didn't

have

a

sense

of

humor like they did, and you wouldn't believe what a
r u c k u s t h a t c a u s e d . Yo u k n o w t h e c a p t a i n e n d e d u p b e i n g
a first lieutenant. (Laughter.)

H i G o t h i m i n t r o u b l e , h u h ? G o t h i m i n t r o u b l e . O k a y.
I

promised

I'd

get

you

out

of

here

in

a

reasonable

amount of time, but I certainly don't want to cut this
thing off, if there's anything else.

E: Well, that's about all I can think of that would
of any consequence.

Hi

I think it was a real good summary of some of the

Edwards

things that happened down here, and I
taking the time and effortto do it.

appreciate your