The Nazi soldiers made their orders very clear: only Jewish American prisoners of war were to fall out the next morning and be separated from their fellow brothers in arms being sent to an uncertain fate. But Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds would have none of that. As the highest-ranking non-commissioned officer held in the German POW camp, he ordered more than 1,200 American captives to fall out with him and fearlessly pronounced: “We are all Jews here.” He would not waver, even with a pistol to his head, and his captors eventually backed down.
Seventy one years later, the Knoxville, Tennessee, native was posthumously recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, Israel’s highest honor for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the holocaust. He’s only the fifth American and the first American serviceman to earn the honor. And he is the first person to rescue American Jews.
“Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds seemed like an ordinary American soldier, but he had an extraordinary sense of responsibility and dedication to his fellow human beings,” said Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial. “The choices and actions of Master Sgt. Edmonds set an example for his fellow American soldiers as they stood united against the barbaric evil of the Nazis.”
After being released by Associated Press, the story has gone viral appearing in media markets across the world. It was covered by all major news outlets and many regional and local outlets as well. News of Sergeant Edmonds actions have been described as… “Hero!”, “amazing”, “incredible”, “like Spartacus”, “awe inspiring”, “brave beyond belief”, “now that’s a real hero”, “deserving of the medal of honor”, “what a courageous, compassionate man”, and thousands more similar comments. Many have said the story has restored their faith in humanity.
Pastor Chris Edmonds is the son of WWII hero Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds whose fearless valor saved the lives of more than 200 Jewish American soldiers in a prisoner of war camp in Germany in January 1945.
Pastor Edmonds serves as Senior Pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Maryville, Tennessee. He is also founder of Roddie’s Code, LLC, and The Roddie Edmonds Foundation; organizations committed to extend the legacy and leadership of Sergeant Edmonds to future generations. He lives in Maryville Tennessee with Regina, his bride and high school sweetheart, near his three daughters and seven of the coolest grandchildren on the planet.