Mr. Eddie: A Museum’s Hidden Treasure
While visiting a new museum can be intimidating for anyone, Mr. Eddie at the African American Military History Museum (AAMHM) makes it a point to greet each person walking in the door as if they are part of his family.
He has been a friendly face at the African American Military History Museum for the past three years. Anyone who visits the museum will meet Mr. Eddie and will not forget him. Just ask Taylor Phillips, a senior at Southern Miss.
“Even before talking with Mr. Eddie, I knew he would be a unique character,” said USM senior Taylor Phillips. “He was a special part of the museum, and everyone who meets him would always remember him.”
On any day the African American Military History Museum is open, Mr. Eddie will be waiting at the front desk with a warm and welcoming smile, ready to share anything and everything – from his life story to extra information about the exhibits – with the day’s visitors.
Working for a military museum is not Mr. Eddie’s first experience with the military. On Oct. 5, 1955, Mr. Eddie, just 22 years old, joined the United States Air Force with one of his friends.
“I only had two years of college,” Mr. Eddie said. “He had four years.”
Mr. Eddie served in the Air Force during peacetime, but he still went through training to be ready in times of war. While in the Air Force, Mr. Eddie worked in communications, mainly with morse code.
After serving his four years in the Air Force and receiving only two stripes, Mr. Eddie retired from the military. He was supposed to receive four stripes, but the military froze the ranking system.
“I was supposed to receive four stripes,” Mr. Eddie said. “I only got two stripes and that hurt me. That’s why I got out.”
Retiring from the Air Force led Mr. Eddie to many new chapters in his life. He traveled all over the world – Texas, Japan, Minnesota – but he ended up here in Hattiesburg. While in Minnesota, Mr. Eddie worked for the United States Postal Service. He met his first wife, who was from Hattiesburg, transferred his Postal Service service job here and lived happily with his wife and his Postal Service job for nearly three decades.
“My first wife passed on, but it’s what we all have to do,” Mr. Eddie said.
Despite how much Mr. Eddie loved his Postal Service job, he retired and began working at the African American Military History Museum when he saw an ad stating the museum needed a new tour guide.
“I had to read a lot of books,” Mr. Eddie said.
It is evident to any visitor that Mr. Eddie truly loves his job as a tour guide at the African American Military History Museum.
“My favorite part is entertaining the people and showing them what’s on exhibition,” Mr. Eddie said.
The African American Military History Museum is open Wednesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday from 12 – 4 p.m.