I’ve been enjoying conversations with Eddie Pinson of Boise, Idaho, for at least 15 years by email. He was an early (2002) Where am I? game winner and last month, he nominated Lane Triplett to be featured in Depth of Tread. What follows means to be a glimpse into Eddie Pinson, a man who, to my way of thinking demonstrates responsible American citizenship, some serious Depth of Tread.
After reading about Lane Triplett in the June issue, Ed said of Triplett, “Humble is where it’s at.” He then shared his own humbling “It came by way of AA, where I’ve been a member for about 45 years.” Enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1956, 17-year-old Eddie found himself on thin ice. “They told me if I didn’t get my head screwed on right—and soon,” it would be over. That awakening worked, he said. “I was able to straighten up, and proudly served my country for 20 years.”
Fresh from recruit training, Ed was assigned to the U.S.S. Butternut (AN-9). The 151-foot ship would serve the Polaris Missile Project out of Long Beach, California, test-firing a dummy missile from a site near San Clemente Island using a tube, similar to the tube on a submarine. While still on the U.S.S. Butternut, in 1960 Eddie obtained permission to marry his sweetheart from Idaho, Terrell.
San Jose, Salt Lake City, and service in Vietnam would follow. In 1963 he worked with others advising the Vietnamese Navy, but by the time his enlistment was over he would also have served in Portland, San Francisco, San Clemente Island (again), and in San Diego. Eddie was a Yeoman and Navy recruiter, and the last five years in the Navy he served as a drug and alcohol counselor at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego. He explained, “There would be no Purple Heart, but ischemic heart disease from Agent Orange” would linger long after service. The VA diagnosis would land later, those reports concluding Ed was to be 100-percent disabled.
Retirement from the U.S. Navy came March 1, 1976, at age 36. If he hadn’t joined in 1956, he would have been in the class of ’57 at Boise High School. Instead he said, “I graduated high school in Santa Ana, California, in 1976 on the GI Bill.”
When Eddie returned to Boise after completing active service, he brought along a 1971 650 Yamaha. It wasn’t quite big enough for his bride and him, so in time a Honda Gold Wing did the trick. Early in 2002 Ed put $500 down on a Road King and explained, “I was given a black T-shirt that said, ‘My Harley is on Order’.” That 2003 Anniversary Edition Road King is now sitting alongside a 2013 Harley Tri-Glide. Ed told me that, at age 78 now, “I still get around on the trike OK.”
Ed believes in furthering worthy organizations, either as a member, by serving in some capacity or having a hand in leadership. Some of those he’s given time to include: the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (Boise chapter), Christian Motorcyclists Association, ICMS/the Idaho Coalition for Motorcycle Safety, the Idaho State “STARS” program, Life Flight, the local Patriot Guard Riders and the Iron Warriors Motorcycle Club of Boise.
He demonstrates unwavering patriotism by membership in the U.S. Navy Fleet Reserve Association, American Legion, Vets of Foreign War, and Disabled Vets of America. He explained, “Service members are all over the world looking out for the well-being of those back home in the USA.” He feels the organizations that support service members are essential.
Eddie has enjoyed hanging with the Idaho Vintage Motorcycle Club when they put on a swap meet. Until last year, he and Terrell helped out in the parking lot at the annual Caldwell event. When he can, Ed participates with the local Patriot Guard Riders, either escorting the remains of the fallen or standing with others to honor the soldier.
Eddie expressed appreciation for the good and generous folks operating his local dealer, High Desert Harley-Davidson, saying, “They’re great, and coffee’s always on.”
Although born in Preston, Idaho, in 1939, Eddie said, “I’ve been to a lot of places in my life, and Boise, Idaho, is where it’s at for me.” The Pinson’s daughter Terrie and her son Adam also make their home in Boise.
To stay on the straight and narrow, Ed has the Serenity Prayer at his desk, with another copy in his wallet. “I read it every day.” The well-thumbed wallet copy has been there since September 27, 1972.
There is an American flag 24/7 in front of Eddie and Terrell Pinson’s home. Neither of them is certain how many years it’s been flying, but “many.”
Long may she wave, sir.