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Daughter brews tribute to dad, other Gulf War vets

Captain Jack lager honors Edwards, a chopper pilot who died on a mission in the Gulf War. All proceeds will go to the construction of the Desert Storm Memorial.

BELTON, Texas — Adriane Hodges sat at one among many family-style tables Saturday at Bold Republic Brewing in Belton, south of Waco. 

She and her husband, Patrick Hodges, run the brewery. But on this day, the room was steeped in the memory of her father, Capt. Jack Edwards, who was the first officer killed in the 1991 Gulf War.

Credit: Courtesy / WFAA
Marine Cpt. Jack Edwards died on February 2, 1991 in Operation Desert Storm.

Edwards was killed on Feb. 2, 1991 while on a medevac mission.

“I think I’m finally at a place where I feel lucky to have been given this opportunity to give back because in some way it makes a little bit of sense out of all the tragedy and all,” Hodges said. 

What she's giving back is beer. A few months ago, she heard that a Desert Storm Memorial had been authorized by Congress. She contacted the organizing committee and discovered the memorial needed money – a total of $40 million in donations – to become a reality.

Her dad, she knew, loved beer. He was born at the Bitburg Air Force Base in Germany and grew up on German-style lagers. Why not brew a beer her father would like and donate the proceeds to the Desert Storm Memorial? 

And Captain Jack lager was born. 

Bold Republic Brewing is sharing the recipe with other breweries – Back Bay in Virginia Beach, Va. and Full Tilt in Baltimore – which are also donating proceeds.

Several Texas operations, Hodges said, are also on the verge of signing on.

Credit: Byron Harris / WFAA
Adriana Hodges and her son Jack, named after his grandfather.

On the Saturday of July 4th weekend, all the efforts came together. 

The word got out to vets that a fundraiser was afoot. 

Although the Gulf War was 28 years ago, it was America’s first face-to-face with Saddam Hussein, a time still vivid in the minds of many of the soldiers who fought.

"Gulf War vets are everywhere here today,” said Bill Blair, who met up with some of his old buddies at the Belton brewery. “Just look for the baseball caps and T-shirts.”

Credit: Byron Harris / WFAA
Gulf War vet Bill Blair. Only twenty miles from Ft. Hood, Belton is home to many veterans

“This is a beautiful thing, bringing all these wonderful people together to support a great cause,” Hodges said.

Outside an oompah band pumped out strains of "Sweet Caroline" as a 15-foot tall inflatable beer stein was erected not far from hot dog and barbecue stands nestled between craft beer booths. 

On a side street, a three-block-long convoy, organized by The Veterans of Foreign Wars Motorcycle Club, rumbled up. The place was awash in Capt. Jack.

Credit: Byron Harris / WFAA
A half-mile long motorcycle tribute rumbles in.

“He always said ‘integrity is doing something right when nobody’s watching,'" his daughter, who was 8 when he volunteered for the Gulf War, remembered. “And you know, he went to the Gulf War because Kuwait had been invaded by Saddam Hussein. He said there are little girls like you, their families don’t have their freedom. People have to step up. And he did. He paid the ultimate sacrifice."

"This is my chance to step up and do what’s right," Hodges said.

Breweries across the country can apply to brew the lager. Those proceeds will also go to the construction of the Desert Storm Memorial in Washington D.C.