USFHP Member Profile Series: Well-Earned Shore Leave

Retired Navy Commander David Edwards Served in Atlantic and Pacific Theaters in World War II

At 103 years old, Commander David Edwards, US Navy (retired), is the oldest US Family Health Plan member in the Pacific Northwest. A World War II veteran and longtime reservist, Edwards now lives as a retiree in Seattle, Washington, in the house he and his family built from scratch.

As a student at the University of Washington before World War II, Edwards participated in the U.S. Navy ROTC program. Commissioned as an ensign, the Navy contacted him prior to America’s involvement in the war, and he spent the next year practicing minesweeping in the region.

Edwards served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during World War II, ship-bound the entire time—he never served any stints of onshore duty. After a stint at a mine school, he ran a minesweeping ship in San Francisco for the better part of a year, sweeping from the Golden Gate up and down the bay to protect the West Coast.

After seeing combat duty against Japanese forces, Edwards was assigned to be the head of submarine warfare and skippered patrol craft. He was then transferred to the Atlantic theater, where he served the rest of the war as group commander of five ships which convoyed up and down the Atlantic from New York City to Cuba.

After the war ended, he moved to an electronics repair ship which helped ferry American troops to and from Japan. Commissioned just after the war, the USS Kent Island was “not a real speedy ship, but a real fancy ship,” Edwards said, recalling several relatively high-end features, including multiple dentists, a barbershop, a shoe shop, a sizable laundry and other trimmings. The sailors ferried back home to the U.S., Edwards remembered, enjoyed these features, as well the exotic concept of “good food” on a Navy ship, including a particularly memorable strawberry shortcake.

“We carried young guys out there, and they complained about the food all the time, but the new guys we got on our service order in the war…they came aboard, and first thing you saw were showers,” Edwards said. “We had everything! Those guys…they didn’t complain. They were coming home.”

Though Edwards has faced his fair share of health conditions, he doesn’t complain, either. A member of US Family Health Plan at Pacific Medical Centers since 1998, he has relied on his care teams in recent years to help him with chronic care needs, guiding him through bouts with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, heart issues and cataracts. Eye procedures have restored his vision to 20/20, even at age 103.

“Well, I look good,” he said. “I don’t know what the secret is, I just don’t do anything bad.”

In addition to maintaining a sharp eye and sharper wit, Edwards walks every day, shops with his great-granddaughter and doles out sailing and maintenance advice for boaters whenever given the chance. He is also quick to recommend the US Family Health Plan to eligible enrollees.

“Oh, yeah, I’d recommend it. It’s first class, as far as I’m concerned; otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed on it. My sister was married to an Army officer, and she refused to join, and she’s paying the price!”

US Family Health Plan at PacMed will host a luncheon to celebrate Edwards and its 25 members over age 99 this month. To learn more about the quality health care US Family Health Plan provides them and 150,000 members across the country, please explore our website.