Veteran thankful for birthday vaccination

Major (Retired) Murray Edwards

Major (Retired) Murray Edwards

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer

Major (Retired) Murray Edwards received a potentially lifesaving belated birthday present Jan. 19.

Three days after celebrating his 101st birthday, the Second World War and Korean War veteran, a resident of Veterans Memorial Lodge, received his COVID-19 vaccination.

Murray willingly rolled up his sleeve as one of the nine nurses from Island Health administered the vaccine in the Lodge’s Oak Room. While the date is not yet set, residents will likely be scheduled for their second inoculation within the next month. 

“I am so thankful and very glad to be getting this vaccine,” he said. “I think this is a step in the right direction towards the goal of keeping everyone safe.”

He added the safety measures are of “great importance” to him because his father was a victim of the last global pandemic, the Spanish Flu. That pandemic caused more than 50 million deaths worldwide. His father contracted the Spanish Flu in 1918 while serving in the Canadian Army during the First World War. He survived both the illness and the war.

Last year, Murray’s 100th birthday was celebrated in a nearby hotel conference room and included a large crowd and music; this year’s 101st milestone was quiet. 

“Instead of a giant birthday cake with 101 candles, I received a cupcake with one candle,” he said wryly.

Despite the low-key celebration, Edwards says he still had a delightful birthday. He received dozens of phone calls from friends, family, veterans, and other well-wishers such as the Honorable Yonah Martin, a Conservative Senator from B.C. Martin’s letter congratulated Edwards on reaching his latest milestone and for his service to Canada, calling him “a true Canadian hero.”

Edwards served as a combat instructor during the Second World War and then with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry at the Battle of Kapyong during the Korean War. He was also part of Canada’s peacekeeping mission to Cyprus and the Third Arab-Israel War.  He retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1969.

Life-long friend Cdr (Retired) Peter Chance, 100, also called him. Their friendship started in the 1950s when they worked together at CFB Esquimalt, with their wives bonding as well. 

“Murray and I are really like the last of the Mohicans of our generation; all of my other pals are gone now except Murray,” said Chance. “We see eye to eye on so many things and have always been very simpatico.”

The two friends are looking forward to meeting in person once it is safe to do so.


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