WWII Speaker Awes American Legion Post 56

Special to the Cape Charles Wave

July 8, 2013

Edgar T. Steward began his 38-year naval career in 1942, one year after WW II started, and it was an adventure that took him to the sands of Iwo Jima, to the Battle of Inchon and Pusan in Korea, and finally to the jungles of Viet Nam where he earned the Bronze Star.

During those years, Steward rose from the rank of Seaman Recruit to full Captain and yet still found the time to raise a family and travel the world with his beloved wife Mary Jean and their three sons.

For a man who has the great distinction of having fought in three wars he still maintains a razor sharp sense of humor that brings a smile to anyone near him. Those personal traits were front and center last month when Captain Steward was the guest of honor at his son Dave’s installation as Post Commander of American Legion Post 56 in Cheriton.

Without the use of any prepared material, this 91-year-old patriarch spoke before an awestruck crowd about his travels and the fact how proud he was of his American Legion Commander son. He fondly remembered the time when his son was entering the Navy to start his own career. Steward said his parting words to Dave were, “Just do what they tell you to do and you won’t get into any trouble” — or in other words perform your duties to the best of your ability.


These are the words that many fathers have passed to their sons and daughters over the ages but on this night it had a special meaning with Dave assuming the chief leadership role for Post 56. This was a point not lost on this crowd of veterans.

After Steward spoke, Dave announced that he was dedicating his first year as Commander to serving the ESVA Veterans. This was in honor of his warrior father who spent most of his career in the Medical Service Corps serving with the U.S. Marine Corps. That service with the Marines was an issue that Steward also addressed with great humor, reverence and pride.

Probably one of the most interesting footnotes in Steward’s long naval career was his work with a Navy Corpsman at the Quantico Naval Hospital. The Corpsman in question was without a doubt a very funny person with a quick mind and ready smile who the world later knew as comedian Bill Cosby.

It has been said that the heroes walk amongst us and we never know it. For one night and for one instance, members and their guests of Post 56 met one of those heroes — some of them for the first time.



2 Responses to “WWII Speaker Awes American Legion Post 56”

  1. Steve Downs on July 8th, 2013 10:05 am

    Well said Joe. It was a privilege to be able to hear Capt. Steward speak and to witness the installation of his son as our new commander. I believe the post will benefit from Dave’s leadership.

  2. Joe Vaccaro on July 9th, 2013 6:35 am

    Steve, thanks for the kind words. Dave picks up where the other Post 56 Commanders left off and we’ll continue to move forward as an award winning American Legion Post.