Retired US Air Force Master Sergeant Edwin "Ted" Tufts II is originally from Massachusetts. He's lived in South Carolina for more than 20 years now, but admits he misses the cold weather and snowfall that the north provided. His wife, on the other hand, comically explained to him when he was retiring out of Charleston that she "would not be living anywhere further north than North Charleston." Tufts, finding himself comfortable with southern living, decided it was a good place for the family to stay.
Tufts joined the Air Force in 1975 as a loadmaster with hopes of being able to fly in airplanes. His father served as a pilot in the Air Force and though he did not want to be a pilot, Tufts wanted to follow in his father's footsteps of service and aviation.
His job as a loadmaster was to ensure cargo was appropriately spread across his air crafts in order to ensure smooth flight operations, fuel efficiencies and safety for the crew and pilots.
"A military cargo plane doesn't just get loaded up and take off. You have to ensure the plane will fly balanced and stable to keep everyone safe," said Tufts.
Like many veterans, he was looking for somewhere to call home after retiring in 1995. Tufts and his wife wanted to meet people who had gone through similar experiences as them. An old friend invited him to attend a gathering at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Summerville. Tufts said he was excited about the camaraderie and opportunities to help his local veteran community. He joined the organization shortly after.
As years went on, Tufts took the opportunity to step into leadership positions at the post, eventually becoming a Post Commander and later a District Commander. After 20 years of military service and 15 years of serving with the VFW, Tufts accepted the nomination and was elected to the office of the State Commander of South Carolina's Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Like many organizations, the VFW has seen difficult times amid COVID-19. "Some of our posts are struggling, others are making headway, bringing in donations, hosting food drives, scheduling phone calls with post members to check in and make sure they are safe. It's been really tough, but I'm proud of our members here in South Carolina and how they've stepped up to push through this."
One of Tufts' goals when taking over as State Commander was to bring the younger generation of veterans into leadership roles in the VFW.
"South Carolina is very lucky to have a large younger generation of veteran members. People still think the VFW is just a smoke filled bar with old people telling war stories. That's just not true. We know that that's not what our younger members are looking for. They want to get out and help the community and do what's right by their fellow veterans," he said. "When I stepped into the shoes of State Commander, I picked some younger veterans to work with me because I know they have some great ideas on how we can make the VFW better."
Learn more about Tufts this week on 943TheDude.com/SoldierSalute.