JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - He died fighting for his country, and five decades later, a Jacksonville veteran is recognized -- not only for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War but for his education.
The legacy of Pvc. Edwin Jones was honored at Stanton College Preparatory School's graduation.
Patricia Jones was surrounded by family and friends as she accepted the diploma for her brother, who made the ultimate sacrifice before he even graduated high school.
"He volunteered to go to war and he gave my parents the understanding that he would be going into the service once he graduated from high school, but that wasn't the case," Jones said.
She said Edwin was a senior at what was then the Stanton Vocational School when he was called upon by the Army to serve his country in the Vietnam War in 1967.
A few weeks later, his unit was attacked by snipers.
"He risked his life several times to save his comrades," Jones said. "They were under fire and he went back to get about four or five of his infantry men before he was killed."
For his courageous efforts, Edwin Jones was awarded the Bronze Star for Heroism and the Purple Heart.
"My brother was always a giving person and loving person," Patricia Jones said. "Therefore, it was not hard to understand that this was something he felt he had to do. And with that, although it was hard losing him, we knew what his goal was."
Edwin's story sparked the interest of a stranger all the way from California who searched 15 years to get in contact with the family.
"Bhawk, as he likes to be called, said that my brother's story was so interesting that he felt that my brother needed all the accolades that he was entitled to," Patricia Jones said.
Bhawk, along with the Veterans High School Diploma Program, was able to get Stanton College Prep to recognize Edwin with his diploma during its graduation ceremony Friday.
His younger sister said it's an emotional time, even 50 years after his death.
"It's just an honor, an indescribable honor," she said. "He's a hero in our minds, always in our hearts. Therefore, we'll never forget."
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