Sgt. Marshall L. Edgerton likely saved hundreds of Soldiers in Iraq 16 years ago because of his selfless, heroic actions. It was a day most of those Soldiers will never forget, and now hundreds more who never met Edgerton will hear about for years to come.
Fort Gordon honored Edgerton with a memorialization and barracks dedication ceremony on Dec. 11. Located adjacent to Clayton Barracks, Building 33806 was renamed Edgerton Barracks and a plaque in front of it was unveiled. The plaque is mounted on a large rock directly in front and center of Edgerton Barracks.
"Just like a rock can stand the test of time, Sgt. Edgerton's actions 16 years ago will also stand the test of time," said Col. John Batson, 15th Signal Brigade commander.
Edgerton Barracks is the largest company and barracks facility on Fort Gordon, consisting of 300 rooms and housing 900 Soldiers each year as they transition from civilian to signal Soldier.
Edgerton was killed while pulling a force protection shift on Combat Outpost Champion Main, in Ramadi, on Dec. 11, 2003. He was escorting an Iraqi vehicle onto the outpost when he noticed something wrong. He stopped to warn others of the vehicle moments before the driver detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, killing Edgerton. Soldiers with him that day believe that had Edgerton not noticed something was wrong with the vehicle, the VBIED may have detonated closer to a dining facility where hundreds of Soldiers were eating lunch.
At the time of his death, he was assigned to 82nd Signal Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Prior to his death, Edgerton attended Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, where he earned the military occupational specialty of 31R, multi-channel transmission system operator-maintainer, in November 2000. He first deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from July 2002 to January 2003. Despite only being home for six months, Edgerton volunteered to deploy again with his unit -- this time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, from Augusta 2003 until his death.
Brig. Gen. Christopher Eubank, Army Signal School commandant and 39th chief of signal, was deployed with Edgerton under 82nd Airborne Div. in 2003. At the time, Eubank said he knew Edgerton more by reputation than he did personally, but that he knew the type of person he was -- someone whose life was in line with the Army Values.
"Not only did he demonstrate [the Army Values] by volunteering for a deployment, it was because of him no one else lost their life that unfortunate day," Eubank said.
Eubank said that like most, he remembers exactly where he was when news of the bombing hit.
"All we knew at the time was that one young Soldier had saved the lives of so many," Eubank said.
Several of Edgerton's family members attended the ceremony, including his son, Sgt. Marshall H. Edgerton, who followed his father's footsteps and is now serves with the 82nd Airborne Div. as a signal support systems specialist.
Only 7 years old at the time, memories of his father are somewhat faint, but the impact he had on him was profound. To be in the same division his father was a part of has been an incredible experience, he said. And while he doesn't like being compared to his father, he does enjoy meeting people who served with him, including his current boss, who is quick to share stories of his father.
"I'm never going to fill up to those shoes … he did something that most of us could never fathom doing for anybody."