GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Students from around the region were educated about the Holocaust and other genocides during the 2nd annual East Tennessee Holocaust Conference Wednesday morning at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville.
The special guest speaker of the conference was Chris Edmonds, son of Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds — a highly decorated war hero.
Roddie Edmonds saved more than 200 prisoners of war — some Jewish — during his time in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II in late 1944, and even spent 100 days in captivity as a POW himself.
The story of Roddie Edmonds wasn’t told until after he had passed away and his son Chris started researching his dad’s time in the Army
Chris found his dad’s journals, which helped him piece together his capture in WWII.
In an internet search, he found a man named Lester Tanner who was quoted during an interview talking about his dad.
“I couldn’t believe that my dad’s name was in there and he’s being quoted as being brave and saving the gentleman,” Chris Edmonds said. “Who they are talking about is Lester Tanner, who had sold his townhouse to the president (Richard Nixon) in the 1970s.”
From there he kept researching and meeting more people his father had saved. So far, he’s met five people his dad helped save.
Before learning of his father’s story, Chris Edmonds said no one really knew what his father had accomplished except for those that he saved.
“I think it’s a story for our time, for times that we are living in,” he said. “We need to learn to love our fellow man and fellow woman and come together in unity.”
Chris is currently writing a book about his father and his brave actions to save those who were in the POW camp.
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