U.S. Army’s best instructor teaches at URI

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ROTC instructor Major Robert Edwards wins Col. Leo A. Codd Memorial Award

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 26, 2008 —Maj. Robert Edwards of Wakefield has been selected for the U.S. Army’s most prestigious teaching award, the Col. Leo A. Codd Memorial Award, in a national competition of all ROTC programs.

The award is presented each year to the most outstanding ROTC instructor from the Army, Navy, and Air Force services across the country.

Each service provides three nominations –first, second, and third place. Edwards, an instructor in the University of Rhode Island’s ROTC program, was the Army’s top choice. As the first place winner, Edwards will receive a $500 U.S. savings bond. The award will be formally presented to Edwards during URI ROTC annual spring awards ceremony on May 9.

For nearly 50 years from 1923 until his death in 1971, Codd, the award’s namesake, worked diligently to keep the American people informed on the vital role that industrial preparedness plays in a national emergency. He strongly believed that the ROTC Service Program was a key element in our military preparedness and that it must be kept viable and of the highest quality.

There are about 400 ROTC training detachments for all services today across 350 college and university campuses. ROTC, as a commissioning source, produces 50 percent of all officers in the armed forces.

“It’s the best job in the world,” says an exuberant Edwards who was assigned to URI’s ROTC’s Cramer Saber Battalion. “And it’s the most important. There are many ways to serve one’s country,” says Edwards.

“All the staff and instructors in URI ROTC, as well as the administrators at URI, deserve to share this great honor,” he adds.

Teaching comes naturally to Edwards. A native of Fairfax Va., he earned three degrees from Virginia Tech—a bachelor’s degree in business, a master’s degree in education, and an MBA.

He was a teacher and coach in the Fairfax County public school system for eight years while in the Army Reserves. He began active duty in 2003. His first assignment was in Fort Hood, Texas where he served in multiple roles, but primarily as the III Corps topographic engineer officer. While at Fort Hood, he was deployed to Iraq and served for a year as an engineer planner.

His 3-year-old twin girls were born while he was in Iraq. Although he missed their birth, he got home in time to bring his wife, Melinda, and the girls home from the hospital. His son was born June 2006 in Newport, an event Edwards was thrilled to witness.

Edwards is concluding his third year at URI, where he has taught URI, Roger Williams University, and Salve Regina University students enrolled in URI ROTC. Upon graduation from college and the successful completion of ROTC, Cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants in one of the Army’s specialized branches.

“They are top notch students,” he says. “It’s an honor to see them grow and succeed. In addition, several Cadets, as part of the ROTC program, attended the U.S. Army Airborne and Air Assault schools, and Assault School, Airborne school, and all of them graduated,” he added proudly.

“Robert exemplifies the consummate instructor who serves equally well as teacher, mentor, coach, counselor, and role model, “ comments Paul Yager, commanding officer and department chair of military science. He dedicates more than 20 hours per week to mentoring and counseling Cadets. On many occasions, his Cadets have personally commented to me about Robert’s level of commitment to their professional and personal development. Soldier, scholar, teacher, and mentor, he does it all with excellence and character. Robert is an outstanding representative of our Army and our University.”

Yager notes that Edwards revolutionized the curriculum. He created the first ever-online Army ROTC course at URI—a military history course, which proved popular for Cadets as well as non-Cadet students.

Edwards’ awards and decorations include the Joint Services Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Parachutist Badge.

Lt. Col. Richard Takishita served with Edwards in Fort Hood and in Iraq: “His work (in Iraq) was critical in the movement of 17,300 engineer soldiers and 600 engineer units in and out of theater, planning and offensive operations in Karbala, An Najaf, Fallujah, Samara and Ramadi, planning several counter-insurgency attacks, supporting Muslim pilgrimages, and coordinating engineer operations with sister services, Marines, Navy, and Air Force. “He is a true professional that I am proud to say I served with him during combat operations,” adds Takishita.

The two soldiers will soon work together again. Edwards will be transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve Command in Atlanta this summer where he will begin as an operations officer in the Operations Directorate.”