A local Veteran friend associated with The Young Marines informed me about Ed Bressell who had been invited to one of their events. Ed was instantly quite the celebrity wearing his awesome USMC uniform at The Young Marines ceremony and I could not resist reaching out to him. We recently met in his Valencia home and the hospitality extended to me by Ed, his lovely wife Joan and his delightful daughter Lydia was certainly appreciated.
Edgar D. Bressell was born July 24, 1931, in Seminole, Oklahoma, where he lived with his parents and two younger sisters, however at age three, his father passed away so his mother moved her family to her hometown of Ames, Iowa. At age 5, Ed’s mother tragically passed away which led the three children to live with their maternal grandmother until Ed was nine years old. Ed next lived with an aunt and uncle in Denver where he attended North Denver High School but at age 16 and 17 he began visiting a local USMC recruiting office befriending several NCO’s. After finally wearing down his guardian aunt to approve, Ed enlisted with the Marine Corps in September 1948 and promptly departed for 12 weeks of Boot Camp training in San Diego, California.
After Boot Camp, Ed was assigned to Naval Air Station, Moffett for one year near Sunnyvale, California. Next, Ed volunteered for a “Special Out Afloat” unit so he was sent to San Diego where he boarded a Sea Plane Tender Ship and departed for the Marshall Islands in February 1951. A seaplane tender is a ship that supports seaplane operations which is regarded by some as the first aircraft carriers appearing just before WWI. The Marshall Islands had been retaken from Japanese occupiers by U.S. forces in 1944 and later became a practice target site for atomic bomb testing. Nuclear testing began in 1946 on Bikini Atoll after residents were evacuated. After his ship participated in several tests of which Ed watched the ominous mushroom clouds in the distance, they returned to San Diego.
Once back to San Diego, Ed was assigned drill instructor over newly minted Boot Camp Marines for the next seven months which included attending Drill Instructor School. Next, Ed volunteered to serve in a security unit aboard an aircraft carrier, The USS Philippine Sea for eighteen months. Ed’s aircraft carrier was sent to the Korean Peninsula at the outbreak of the Korean War in support of United Nations ground troops, first during the Battle of Pusan Perimeter and then during the Inchon Landings and the Second Battle of Seoul. She subsequently supported UN troops during the surprise Chinese attack and the Chosin Reservoir Campaign. Ed’s aircraft carrier saw three tours of duty during the Korean War, receiving nine battle stars, however Ed participated in one tour of duty. Afterwards, Ed returned to San Diego for two more years for drill instructor schooling and training new Marines, plus he was promoted to Staff Sergeant (E-6). Next, he volunteered for one year to the Criminal Investigation Division which he said was challenging and rewarding.
Master Gunnery Sergeant
As Ed’s enlistment approached the end, he strongly considered leaving the USMC to become a San Diego police officer, but when it came right down to it, he re-enlisted for six more years. During the next six years, he was a drill instructor and finally Master Gunnery Sergeant Edgar D. Bressell finished his career as Operations Chief of Battalion with the 1st Marine Division. Ed was honorably discharged February 1, 1963, but just before departure he applied with the Los Angeles Police Department and on February 4, 1963, Ed began attending LA’s Police Academy. He graduated in April and was assigned to the Hollenbeck Community Station in East LA for one year as a patrol officer. Ed’s next assignment was with the Accident Investigation Division and then he was off to the Central Division (now known as Rampart) where numerous notorious gangs operated. They currently include, 18th Street, Mara Salvatrucha, Echo Park, Rockwood, Crazy Riders, Temple Street, Witmer Street, Clanton 14, Burlington locos, Wanderers, Varrio Vista Rifa, Head Hunters, Diamond Street, Big Top Locos, and La Mirada Locos.
Ed experienced numerous LAPD assignments and he enjoyed the various challenges that each new experience came his way. As Ed excelled in law enforcement, he moved up to take on more and more responsibilities including Internal Affairs where he assisted LA’s City Attorney working out of City Hall’s 19th Floor offices. For 18 months, Ed investigated lawsuits brought against LAPD officers, but in 1969 he was recommended to handle drill instructor duties at LAPD’s Academy, a position that suited him well. Three years later, Ed was promoted to Detective II which he worked for the next 20 years retiring from LAPD in July 1991. During Ed’s career, he experienced the dark side of humanity, particularly during the 1965 Watts Riot and working homicides. He once had to view the remains of two boys who perished in an arsonist fire. But Ed wasn’t ready to fully retire so he landed a job with Los Angeles City’s Department of Public Safety as a background investigator.
A Great American
In 1994, Ed retired but along the way he and his detective buddies routinely patronized Pipers Coffee Shop at Western and Beverly Boulevard as they appreciated the fine service they received there. It turns out, that fine service was provided by none other than Joan, Piper’s most personable waitress, whom Ed was very much attracted to. During one evening at Piper’s a crook made the mistake of trying to snatch a lady’s purse and Ed promptly apprehended him. Ed instantly became a hero to her and soon they were dating, leading to their Police Academy wedding on August 8, 1981. Together they have four beautiful daughters, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren. These days, Ed is a member of the American Legion and loves to attend as many Veteran & Military events as possible in his awesome USMC uniform, especially the annual Marine Corps Ball.