Veteran returns 60 years after graduating
September 27, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Public service brought Edsel Ward to Fort Jackson in 1953. Last week, family brought him back.
The post looked a little different 60 years ago, he said.
"We rode around some, and I saw one or two buildings that looked kind of familiar," said Ward, 78. "But, the neatest thing about it was that my grand-nephew and I were in the same regiment. Sixty years apart, and we wound up in the same regiment."
Pfc. Kyle Brogden graduated from Basic Combat Training with the 3rd Battalion, 13th Regiment, and didn't argue with his great-uncle's assertions that modern barracks looked like college dormitories.
"It was a lot easier than I expected, if I can say that," said Brogden, of Charleston. "I guess the hardest part was learning how to work with strong-minded people from all over the world. The benefits were a huge factor in my enlistment. Plus, I love aviation and working on cars. I tried to put the two together and am becoming a Black Hawk mechanic."
The graduation connection came as a surprise to everybody, said Kyle's father, Stacy Brogden.
"I knew that Uncle Edsel had gone to Fort Jackson," he said. "Then I found out that he was in the 13th Infantry Regiment. I said, 'What do you know? That's what Kyle's unit is.' The lineage -- 60 years apart -- is really cool."
Ward traveled from his home in Pensacola, Fla., for last week's ceremony. His own graduation was less formal, he said.
"I just wanted to see what it looked like," he said. "There's no comparison, really. Back then, they said, 'OK boys, here are your orders. Don't get seasick.' And I took my boat ride to Korea. All my buddies, I think, went to Germany. I got there in 1953 and left the next year."
Ward served in the Army for three years.
"I thoroughly enjoyed this," Ward said of his visit. "It was nothing even close to what we had, but it's all right. And I couldn't be prouder of Kyle."