Rep. Burchett, Sen. Blackburn lead legislation to award Congressional Gold Medal to Master Sergeant Rodrick “Roddie” Edmonds

April 15, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 15, 2021) – Today, U.S. Representative Tim Burchett (TN-02) introduced the Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds Congressional Gold Medal Act. The entire Tennessee U.S. House delegation—Reps. Diana Harshbarger (TN-01), Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), Jim Cooper (TN-05), John Rose (TN-06), Mark Green (TN-07), David Kustoff (TN-08), and Steve Cohen (TN-09)—are signed on as original cosponsors. U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bill Hagerty (R.-Tenn) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate.

“The heroism of Master Sergeant Edmonds is well-known across Tennessee and in the international Jewish community,” Rep. Burchett said. “He fearlessly faced down Nazi soldiers at a German POW camp during World War II, refusing to identify his fellow Jewish servicemen when held at gunpoint. Master Sergeant Edmonds's selfless courage saved lives and the Congressional Gold Medal is a fitting way to honor his legacy.”

“Thanks to the heroic actions of Master Sergeant Edmonds, hundreds of Jewish servicemen were saved from execution by the Nazis during World War II,” Rep. Harshbarger said. “He was a great East Tennessean, and truly deserves the honor given by a Congressional Gold Medal.”

“I am glad to join my Tennessee colleagues in introducing the Master Sergeant Rodrick Edmonds Congressional Gold Medal Act. Master Sergeant Edmonds was taken as a prisoner of war by Nazi forces during the Battle of the Bulge, while being held at gunpoint by his captors he refused to give the names of the Jewish soldiers in his company. His selfless and patriotic actions saved the lives of 200 Jewish soldiers. MSG Edmonds was an American hero who embodies the very best of our nation,” Rep. Fleischmann said.

“Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds answered the call of duty bravely,” Rep. DesJarlais said. “Even when threatened with his own life, he was courageous enough to not waiver from his plan to outsmart German adversaries. His leadership saved the lives of over 200 Jewish soldiers. I am proud to advocate for his heroic actions to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

“It is a great privilege to introduce this legislation with my colleagues to award a Congressional Gold Medal posthumously to Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds to recognize his service and sacrifice to our nation,” Rep. Rose said. “In the heat of battle during WWII, Edmond served the United States with courage and distinction, and saved over 200 Jewish lives. Awarding Congress’s highest civilian honor is an appropriate way to show our gratitude for his bravery, his service, and his sacrifice.”

“MSG Roddie Edmonds’ selfless actions saved over 200 Jewish lives during World War II. This is what it means to be a true American hero. It’s an honor to join the entire Tennessee delegation in posthumously awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Tennessee’s own MSG Edmonds with the Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds Congressional Gold Medal Act,” Rep. Green said.

“Master Sergeant Rodrick Edmonds was an American hero who risked his life for our nation and his fellow soldiers during World War II. While being detained in a POW camp, he exemplified incredible heroism and leadership and ultimately saved over 200 Jewish lives. Master Sergeant Edmonds deserves a Congressional Gold Medal, and I appreciate my Tennessee colleagues for coming together to introduce this important piece of legislation,” Rep. Kustoff said.

“I’m pleased to join my friend Tim Burchett in honoring a great Tennessean and a great humanitarian, Roderick Edmonds. His selfless service and display of uncommon courage inspires us all," Rep. Cohen said.

“Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds is a true American hero,” Sen. Blackburn said. “Edmonds’s resiliency, courage, and leadership saved over 200 Jewish lives. There is no one more deserving of the Congressional Gold Medal than Master Sergeant Edmonds.”

“The bravery and heroism of Master Sergeant Edmonds is an inspiration to all Americans. He embodied all the characteristics of a courageous solider and carried the tremendous spirit of a true Tennessee volunteer. I am proud to join this legislation to award Master Sergeant Edmonds the high honor of a Congressional Gold Medal,” Sen. Hagerty said.

Master Sergeant Edmonds was a lifelong East Tennessean. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge where Nazi forces captured and detained him at a prisoner of war camp. MSG Edmonds was one of 1,200 American soldiers captured by the Germans. He was a prisoner of war for 100 days.

During his detainment, German soldiers ordered Jewish POWs to identify themselves so they could be separately sent to labor and concentration camps. When MSG Edmonds was held at gunpoint to surrender the identity of the Jewish soldiers in his company, he refused and stated, “We are all Jews here.” Their identities were never given, and the German soldiers eventually ceased their interrogation, saving 200 Jewish soldiers’ lives.

 Since Edmonds death in 1985, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, has recognized him, one of only five Americans, for his actions.