Stunning video shows the moment a wheelchair-bound veteran stood for the National Anthem at a Stanley Cup game while more than 17,000 fans cheered on Wednesday.
Ty Edwards, a retired Lt. Colonel in the Marines, was shot in the head during an ambush in the Kunar province in Afghanistan on Oct. 18, 2008 and was given a ‘grim prognosis’ of ever standing or walking again, Fox News reported.
Edwards, 51, wore a Lightning jersey while the U.S. Air Force 6th Air Mobility Wing Honor Guard presented the American flag at Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
‘The Lightning organization and [owner] Mr. [Jeffrey] Vinik, and the NHL overall, are such first-class organizations. It was great to be there with my entire family,’ Edwards told Fox News.
Stunning video shows the moment a wheelchair-bound veteran stood for the National Anthem at a Stanley Cup game while more than 17,000 fans cheered
Ty Edwards, a retired Lt. Colonel in the Marines, was shot in the head during an ambush in the Kunar province in Afghanistan on Oct. 18, 2008
The 20-year Marine veteran was given a ‘grim prognosis’ of ever standing or walking again
The U.S. Air Force 6th Air Mobility Wing Honor Guard presented the American flag at Tampa Bay’s Amalie Arena
Edwards said he wanted ‘to pay tribute to all those that have lost their lives and made sacrifices that the average American doesn’t see’
Fans are seen cheering for the Marine veteran while he stands on the stage
Edwards said he wanted ‘to pay tribute to all those that have lost their lives and made sacrifices that the average American doesn’t see’ even as standing for the National Anthem has become a hot button issue in the United States.
However, Edwards added he doesn’t ‘fault’ anybody who disagrees with him whether people should stand for The Star Spangled Banner.
‘I don’t fault anybody. It’s a free country. I don’t agree with it but it’s their choice,’ he said.
Edwards, a fan of the Tampa Bay Lightening, said he was ‘honored’ to be at the hockey game on Wednesday. He predicted that the team will ‘win in four’ in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.
‘I wasn’t really thinking about anything but making it through the anthem at the time,’ Edwards told Fox News.
Edwards, who first joined the military in 1992, told the outlet that he served as an infantry officer in the 1st Battalion 7th Marines and was deployed to Okinawa, Japan.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Edwards was sent to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once – where he was wounded in combat, the outlet reported.
Edwards had left his Humvee when insurgents began shooting at his unit, Military Times reported.
Hakimi Quadratullah, Edwards’ then 20-year-old interpreter, saw him lying on the ground and ran to save his life while other Marines engaged in gunfire.
Former Afghan interpreter Hakimi Qaudratullah, left, and Ty Edwards, right, are pictured at Edward’s home in Florida
Quadratullah, left, and then-Marine Lt. Col. Ty Edwards, right, are pictured in Afghanistan
Edwards is pictured with the Embedded Training Team (ETT 7-3) during pre-deployment training for Afghanistan in the Fall of 2007
Quadratullah told the outlet he grabbed a Marine’s M4 rifle and took his ‘chances against the Taliban bullets.’
‘I didn’t want to get taken alive,’ he said. ‘They would have cut my throat with a wire. They would have made a video. My death would have been hard. They would make me suffer every second.’
He added: ”I told him, ‘Don’t die,’ and I started crying. He needed help. He was dying in front of me, and when I got on the radio, I asked for help but it was all jammed up with people talking.’
Quadratullah was knocked out and injured by shrapnel when the Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
According to Fox News, Edwards was taken to Bagram Airfield before being flown to Germany to meet his wife Anna before he was flown Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland for further treatment.
Mark Van Trees, the director of Support the Troops, told Fox News that Edwards ‘goes through an hour of rehabilitation’ every day to continue his recovery over a decade since he was wounded. Van Trees works with the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team to pick guests to be honored during the National Anthem.
‘They told him the prognosis to ever stand up or walk again was not very good… His spirit and his humbleness are just unmatched,’ Van Trees said.
Edwards and Quadratullah long remained connected after the fateful deployment, Military Times reported.
The 20-year Marine veteran helped Quadratullah get a visa and let him live with his family in Tampa Palms, Florida for a time in 2013, the outlet reported.
‘I was lucky and I had good friends like Ty and his friend Steve [Hemmingway],’ Quadratullah, who now works as an operations manager at a distribution center in California, told Military Times.
There are 1,525,400 veterans in the state of Florida as of 2017, According to the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Florida has the country’s third-largest veteran population behind California and Texas.