Almost 70 year later, a young soldiers history comes back to life.
Jack Lockhart was browsing at an Arizona antique shop and stumbled across a photo frame holding a photo of a soldier. After carefully analyzing the frame, Lockhart realized that the frame wasn’t just holding a photo, but history.
“I looked behind the photo and found an article, of the soldiers death,” Lockhart said.
According to the article, a chance circumstance brought two soldiers Sgt. Sie Edwards and Cpl. Otto Whittington; both of Sweetwater together before Edwards’ final night.
“It said that both boys were taken prisoner on Bataan, in April 1942,” Lockhart said.
The article went on to state that Cpl. Whittington was taken with the 31st infantry and Sgt. Edwards was taken with the 93rd squadron of the air corps. Whittington was taken, with 200 other men, by truck out of Bataan. Edwards drew the unlucky straw and made the infamous death march. Both boys were taken to O’Donnell and then on to build a road at Tayabas.
“In the story it says that Edwards was from Sweetwater,” Lockhart said. “After looking at the back of the article and noticing Texas on an ad, I assumed it was Sweetwater, Texas.”
Lockhart said that it was important to find the family, of this soldier, and return the photo to his family.
“I assume that it found its way to the antique shop after being purchased at an estate sale,” Lockhart said.
The last word that Edwards family had received, before word of his death was that their son had been reported missing since the fall. Word of his death came in the summer of 1942, on June 18. This information was reported by telegram from the war department, according to the article.
After his liberation in September from a Japanese prison camp on Kyushu, Whittington returned to Sweetwater for a 90-day furlough and reported the news to Edwards’ parents.
He reported that he had met Edwards in the jungles, south of Manila. The conditions were anything but ideal; the well men were sleeping on rocks of the dry riverbed and sick men were sleeping on the grassier areas, along the river bank. Whittington became sick with malaria, after Edwards had already been stricken with malaria and dysentery.
“We just got to talking one night,” Whittington recalled in the article.
During their conversation, Edwards informed Whittington that he was from Sweetwater, where his father was a grain dealer. Whittington’s family had been in the same place, since 1938. However, he had never been there since he was already enlisted in the military at the time of the move.
“We didn’t feel like talking much -- we were too weak,” Whittington continued on. “We drifted off into something like sleep.”
It may have been a short conversation, but it was enough. The next morning, at breakfast, Whittington went to wake up Edwards only to find out that Edwards did not make it through the night.
By mere coincidence, Whittington met Edwards just in time to be able to deliver the news to his family. Seventy years later, Lockhart wants to deliver a bit of history to Edwards’ family.
If you have any connection or know someone that is related to Sgt. Sie Edwards please contact the newspaper office so that Lockhart can be contacted and return the photo and piece of history to its family.