Frank Edwards was an All-American 165-pounder for the Navy Wrestling Team. He has served in Iraq and now is based at Camp Pendleton outside of San Diego where he commands a platoon of snipers
By Jeremy O’Kasick - TWM Freelance Writer
In the Marine Corps, there is a saying, Once a Marine, always a Marine.
That certainly holds true for 1st Lieutenant Frank Edwards, a 2004 Naval Academy graduate and former All-American wrestler. But he also kicks in his own motto.
"Above all, I am a wrestler", says the 24-year-old Edwards. Before I identify myself as a Marine, or a surfer, or a man, I am a wrestler.
Beyond grappling and surfing, Lt. Edwards’ military expertise happens to be the stuff of warrior lore and action movie blockbusters. He is a sniper. In fact, he commands a platoon of snipers. Now stationed at Camp Pendleton outside of San Diego, he had previously been deployed to Iraq working alongside Iraqi soldiers as an advisor. Edwards will be the first to tell you that his job is all about Leatherneck grit. Just forget all about the Hollywood glamour.
Edwards is just one example of the many former wrestlers serving in the military and in Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent class of Navy wrestlers alone sent 10 graduates into the Marines and another into the Navy Seals. Edwards notes that when he recruits for snipers, he often looks for people with backgrounds in wrestling.
"Wrestling is the founding block for many of us," Edwards says. You get that baseline of being mentally and physically tough. It gives you a solid work ethic that you can apply later on.
A Maryland native, Edwards wrestled at Sherwood High School before going on to become a Midshipman in Annapolis. He has several older relatives who served in both the Army and Navy. He noted that wrestling kept him focused throughout college.
"Academics did not always come easily to me," says Edwards, who placed 7th in the 2003 NCAA national tournament at 165 pounds. 'Wrestling kept me in it.'
Edwards, who was unseeded, opened the 2003 NCAA tournament with a 4-2 overtime win over eighth-seeded Noel Thompson of Hofstra. He then lost to Matt King of Edinboro, 8-2. He then defeated Bill Boeh of Duquesne, 8-0, Oscar Santiago of Purdue, 3-1, and Levi Prevost of Wyoming, 10-4, before losing to John Clark of Ohio State, 10-5.
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