By The Major Brent Taylor Foundation
By Ann Park
A long-time resident of Pleasant View, Ed Summers served in the United States Naval Air Corps from 1951-1955. During that time, the United States was fighting the Korean War and getting drafted was a certainty for young men. Ed chose to enlist in the Navy. “The draft was something everyone expected back then. You didn’t really have any choice about it unless you wanted to run to Canada and lose your citizenship.” Just five months after marrying his sweetheart, Ruth, Ed went off to bootcamp in San Diego.
Originally intending to serve as an engineer, the Navy needed someone to work as a photographer, and Ed moved into that role. He took pictures of military maneuvers and documented accidents such as plane crashes. “My first assignment was at the Naval Airbase in Adak, Alaska. It’s a very remote place, and yes, it was cold.”
Ed’s next posting was to a photographic squadron based at Miramar and assigned to work in the Pacific. They traveled by plane to wherever they were needed. He received orders to join a mission flying to Japan. At the time, Ruth was pregnant, about to deliver their first child. Naturally, she didn’t want him to go. When Ed explained his situation, the Navy assigned someone else to go in his place. “Neither of us will ever forget that mission. We still have the newspaper clipping, even after all these years.” The plane went down, killing seven of the men on board.
Later, Ed was assigned to the Navy Photographic Center in Washington D.C. By this time, he and Ruth had a growing family. “Mostly, I enjoyed my time in the Navy. It wasn’t a bad career. We found lots to see and do there.” Ed worked on many classified projects during his time in Washington and he finished out his time with the Navy there. “We were happy to bring our family home to Utah.”
Ed and Ruth have raised their family here—children, grandchildren, and they’ve even moved on to great-grandchildren. One of their favorite activities during their 72 years of marriage has been dancing. They are a lovely couple, and were skilled ballroom dance instructors for years.
Even though it’s been decades since his time in the Navy, it’s not something Ed will ever forget. “I think the most valuable lesson I learned from my service was how to get along with people, and to work well with all sorts of different personalities.”