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For this Memorial Day, here's a story of true bravery and heroism that needs to be told and remembered. Roderick W. 'Roddie' Edmonds, born 1919, South Knoxville, TN, enlisted in the Army on March 17, 1941 at Fort Oglethorpe.

Edmonds, along with other inexperienced troops, arrived in the combat zone December 1944, with the 106th Infantry Division, arriving only five days before Germany launched a massive counteroffensive, the Battle of the Bulge. During the battle, on 19 December 1944, Edmonds was captured and sent to a German prisoner-of-war (POW) camp: Stalag IX-B. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred, with other enlisted personnel, to another POW camp near Ziegenhain, Germany: Stalag IX-A. As the senior noncommissioned officer at the new camp, Master Sergeant Edmonds was responsible for the camp's 1,275 American POWs

On their first day in Stalag IX-A, January 27, 1945—as Germany's defeat was clearly approaching—Commandant Siegmann ordered Edmonds to tell only the Jewish-American soldiers to present themselves at the next morning's assembly so they could be separated from the other prisoners.

Instead, Edmonds ordered all 1,275 POWs to assemble outside their barracks. The German commandant rushed up to Edmonds in a fury, placed his pistol against Edmonds's head and demanded that he identify the Jewish soldiers under his command. Instead, Edmonds responded, "We are all Jews here," and told the commandant that if he wanted to shoot the Jews, he would have to shoot all of the prisoners. He then warned the commandant that if he harmed any of Edmonds' men, the commandant would be prosecuted for war crimes after the conflict ended—since the Geneva Conventions required prisoners to give only their name, rank, and serial number; religion was not required. The commandant backed down.

Edmonds' actions are credited with saving up to 300 Jewish-American soldiers from possible death.

After 100 days of captivity, Edmonds returned home after the war, but kept the event at the POW camp to himself.

Thank you to Roddie Edmonds for risking his life to save so many. This is a great example of how all of us need to stand up for all of us!

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