Chargers team legend and former linebacker, Donnie Edwards, was named the recipient of the 2019 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.
Edwards received this honor due to his exceptional efforts in honoring and supporting members of the military community.
"I'm honored to be the recipient of the Salute to Service Award for my work with the military," Edwards said. "It means so much to me to continue the legacy of my grandfather, Maximino Razo, by honoring the ones who defended and continue to defend our freedom."
"Inspired by his grandfather's service in WWII, Donnie has exhibited true appreciation for the sacrifices of WWII veterans and those currently serving overseas," said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. "In honor of his very admirable work with those in the greatest generation, USAA is proud to honor Donnie Edwards as the recipient of this year's 'Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.'"
For 22 years, Edwards has devoted his time to giving back to the military. He's participated in multiple USO tours, like in 2018 when he went to Japan on the All-NFL Legends USO Tour, and regularly returns veterans to their former battlefields. As Edwards stated, the dedication to giving back was sparked by his grandfather and Pearl Harbor survivor, Sergeant Maximino Razo, who was a father-figure for him growing up.
Edwards started the Best Defense Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on helping military veterans and their families. Its mission? "Take care of the ones who took care of us."
But while he's done amazing work for military members and veterans for more than two decades, what Edwards did in 2019 was something truly special.
On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, he had a goal to return as many veterans to Normandy as he could.
Edwards and his Best Defense Foundation took 16 veterans and a nurse who served in World War II on a 10-day trip to the shores of northern France. Those who went were honored with ceremonies and parades, and several veterans received the French Legion of Honor Award.
USAA will contribute $25,000 in Edwards' honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches. Additionally, the NFL will match USAA's donation of $25,000, which will be donated to Edwards' military charity of choice. He will be recognized at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 1, 2020 on FOX.
Chargers legend Donnie Edwards brought 16 WWII veterans back to the shores of northern France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.