BELTON, Texas — The shades are drawn at Bold Republic Brewing in Belton as I pull up outside ahead of my interview with Adriane Hodges to talk about her favorite person in the world, her Dad, Captain Jack Edwards.
The brewery and taphouse, opened in 2018, is closed today, the chairs and tables still spaced out to follow all social distancing guidelines, the only sound you can hear is the chug of the A/C unit keeping the small business cool in these hot Texas summers.
"He was, um, everyone loved my Dad," Hodges said, wearing a red Capt. Jack t-shirt and a smile on her face. "He was funny, he was charismatic and he was just their people like that."
Hodges said the story of her Dad, her hero, is deeply personal, after losing him when she was just eight years old, in 1991.
"Your Dad is kind of the end all be all when you're a little girl," she said. "He was a soldier, he was a hero and I was used to him being gone for deployments but he always came back."
Jonathan Ross Edwards was born April 20,1956 in Bitburg, Germany on an Air Force Base, but everyone who knew him called him, Jack. He served in the United States Army and then the Marine Corps as an Officer flying Cobra helicopters. He died as a Captain on February 2, 1991 while fighting in the Gulf War, while flying a medical evacuation mission.
"He chose to go to the Gulf," Hodges remembers, saying he was a Reservist at the time. "He ran into someone, I think at McDonald's and they started talking about the Persian Gulf conflict that was coming up and he decided he needed to go."
Adrian was definitely Daddy's little girl, she was the youngest child and the only daughter and at the young age of eight, she said understood he needed to go.
"The way he explained it to me," she said. "You're a little girl, you're in America, you're free. There are little girls just like you and there's this really bad guy, Saddam Hussein, and if good people don't stand up to bad people, that's not the kind of world we should live in."
Hodges said Jack told her that he would hope someone would do the same thing for her if the roles were reversed.
"That's integrity," she said he told her. "It's about doing what's right even when nobody is looking and so he felt like he had to do because it was the right thing to do to stand up to a tyrant."
After he deployed, she said she remembers watching the conflict on television but never thought too much about it.
"You pray every night and we watched it on TV, you saw the scud missiles going across the sky," she said. "It wasn't a long conflict, it was brief, so, I just expected him to come home."
Sadly, Jack Edwards, never made it home.
It's been 10,790 days since Captain Jack left this earth as a hero of war when his helicopter crashed along the border of Iraq and Kuwait. He was the first to be buried from the Gulf War at the Arlington National Cemetery.
Hodges said that she was online not too long ago when she happened to run across the National Desert Storm War Memorial Facebook page and she wanted to know how she could be notified when the it opened so she could attend.
"I messaged them and they responded by telling me that it wouldn't be open until they met their $40-million dollar fundraising goal," she said. "I just sat there and thought about how I could help them reach their goal and I just couldn't look away."
Adrian said she talked with her husband and they came up with an idea to brew a beer in honor of her Dad, called the Capt. Jack and they would donate 100% of the profits to the memorial. She said after some messaging and waiting, they loved the idea.
"The problem was," Hodges told me, "we are a small micro brewery in Texas and they wanted to know how people could get the beer nationally."
After some discussion, Hodges said they came up with the idea to share their recipe of Capt. Jack through their website and let any brewery who wanted to make it, they could brew it and donate sales to the memorial.
"The idea isn't new," she said. "Sierra Nevada Brewing did the same thing with their Resilience IPA to raise money for the California Camp Fires, so that's what inspired us to do it."
Capt. Jack debuted in July 2019 and is a Helles Bock which is a German-style Lager. The beer itself features noble hops and is stronger than a Pilsner and has a higher ABV.
"I love talking about it," Hodges said when asked about the special beer that's brewed at Bold Republic for her Dad, his death, she admits, helped shape her as an adult in so many ways. "I think life can hand you a lot of lemons, I got handed some lemons at an early age, but you can let it break you or let it mold you into something stronger."
Hodges said only a handful of states are brewing their Capt. Jack recipe outside of Texas and all of them are on the east coast. She said their goal is to have at least one brewery in all 50 states participate.
"He's having a beer with a lot of people right now. I think whenever someone drinks a Capt. Jack's he's cheersing along with them," Hodges said with a smile, adding she doesn't care how long it takes to raise the money as long as the memorial wall gets built for those men and women who have their lives alongside her hero, Jack.
February 2, 2021 will mark 30-years since her Dad was killed during the Gulf War when she was just eight years old and she said she wouldn't change how her life has turned out, even losing her hero so many years ago.
"I think my Dad's sacrifice and the lessons he left on this earth are really strong," Hodges, that smile still on her face. "and that's the core of what's behind the Captain Jack Project."
The Desert Storm War Memorial in Washington, D.C. is being built on funds raised through various campaign efforts and is 100% volunteer led. As of June 30, 2020, only $9.2 million of the $40 million-dollar goal has been raised. Nearly $6 million of that is from the memorial site award. Donations are being accepted. If you are a brewery looking to apply to brew Capt. Jack inside your brew house and donate your profits, you can do so here.