The men and women of the military, along with their families, have made many sacrifices for our freedom. V100 and Prairie Band Casino & Resort are saying thank you to vets, and those currently serving, with our monthly Salute to the Military.
We want you to tell us the story of someone you know in the armed forces. Every month we’ll select a story and feature it on the website and hand over $100 in Prairie Band Cash to them and their family. Tell us about the military hero you know here!
(Winners must be 21 or older to receive Prairie Cash) Upload a picture of your Military Hero and share their story with us.
C. Edward “Ed” Webber, a Topeka native, has been a dentist since 1969. After graduating from dental school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Ed joined the Navy and was stationed at Treasure Island in San Francisco. While there, he was involved in Mass Casualty Training which involved the identification of a plane-load of Marines that crashed and burned in Sierra Nevada, CA. With these credentials, Ed was soon to receive orders to Vietnam to replace a dentist in Dong Ha and was then detached to the Marines, 3rd Division.
Making his way North in Vietnam was no easy journey. There was no mercy for the new guy and, once he hit the ground after jumping out of a fast moving plane, he was running for cover. He was handed a shovel, a cot, and a mosquito net and was told to dig a fox hole for the night. His dental clinic was a “hooch” with the bare dental essentials and a dart board. Ed’s clinic was right next door to Graves where he would do intake on casualties daily and in many cases would do the body identification via dental records. Ed also worked in triage at the field hospital, performing emergency surgeries and amputations alongside the surgeons.
On the afternoon of October 22, 1968, an Army Captain showed up for his 3:30 pm appointment 30 minutes early. After the extraction, Ed left the Captain to recover while he went to triage/OR to sew up an arm. The base was almost immediately attacked by the first round of a major artillery offensive and left the dental clinic and surrounding structures in shambles and on fire. Ed was able to make it to the bunker with wounded in his arms and in tow, but unfortunately it was already too late for the Army Captain. The bunker was home for hours upon hours as the artillery flew. On the home front, family and friends were certain that Ed had lost his life due to Walter Cronkite reporting of the attack on the national news. Ed is 1 of 3 who did not receive a Purple Heart that day. To this very day, October 22 is known as his “Thank God I’m Alive Day” and he has never worked that day since.
Ed finished his tour in Quang Tri and came home in May 1969 to start a family with his wife. Ed is an American hero. He identified young men who were otherwise unrecognizable and made sure they made it home to their respective families. He helped anywhere he was needed in the most crucial times of saving lives, too. He is listed as a qualified forensic odontologist today. He is a terrific father, grandfather, friend to all, and dentist. He often times will tell his patients “I visited Vietnam last night” and will find counsel with them. Ed still practices dentistry today with his son in Topeka.
Ed’s father and 3 uncles served in WWII. Ed’s son-in-law served in Desert Storm and in Somalia, Africa, most notably the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.
This article was almost solely written by Ed’s daughter, Suzanne Webber Seawell, who is a dental hygienist in St. Louis. She concluded her nomination letter with the following;
Ed is special in my life, as his daughter, because he chose to talk about his experiences and instilled pride for our awesome country in me and my brother. He is blessed with the ability to see the good in things and to not be brought down by experiences that have haunted him in the past. This is admirable to me and his family and friends. His charm and charisma are addicting. He has a great work ethic and has 50 years of dental experience that he shares with his son in the same dental practice that Ed built in 1973. Ed is a conservationist and a lover and defender of animals. He spends his time at his log cabin in Meriden, KS and attending symphonies.