( Photo by The Packer staff )

WAIKOLOA, Hawaii — National Watermelon Association Committee executive director Bob Morrissey refers to its members as family and friends, and the annual conference is its family reunion.

The family appears to have adopted a new member: Maj. Ed Pulido.

Pulido, who has retired. was a featured speaker at the Feb. 20-24 conference, but it was unlike a typical presentation. Instead, he and Morrissey had an informal chat like two friends. Which is what they are.

Morrissey met Pulido five years ago, through an association with Maj. Dan Rooney, who spoke at the NWA’s 2014 conference. Rooney founded the Folds of Honor Foundation, which raises money for scholarships for wounded veterans and family members. 

Pulido, who lost a leg in 2004 in Iraq when an improvised explosive device blew up, is the senior vice president of Folds of Honor.

He said his injury changed him.

“I wasn’t a selfish person anymore. It was about doing something purposeful for others, and that’s what this association does, and it’s what you do, collectively,” he said. 

Major Ed and Bob Morrissey chat.
Major Ed and Bob Morrissey chat during the National Watermelon Association's convention.


“You’re all in the fight together. And on that day, that’s what I recognized. That, at the end of the day, no matter what challenges I may go through, I have to get up and have to do something purposeful.”

He commended the group throughout the talk, and singled out the state/regional watermelon queens. Representing the 105-year legacy of the NWA, Pulido said, is an incredible responsibility.

“One of the things I value across the country, is the connection to a higher movement (Folds of Honor), and what I mean by that is this association is here for you,” he said. “ … You represent something very powerful.”

Morrissey said Pulido’s participation and uplifting message came at the right time, following a tough year on the industry. Those in attendance agreed, with 23 companies pledging $45,000 to Folds of Honor.

Morrissey forwarded a note he sent Pulido on the donation:

“Your visit with us this morning inspired our attendees, caused eyes to well up, and was truly heartfelt. You are an American hero to us, and we are blessed that you shared your experience, time and military life with us. Mahalo!”

Morrissey said the association plans to discuss the possibility of making an annual donation to Folds of Honor.

The companies that have pledged support to Folds of Honor scholarships, according to the NWA, are:

  • Ag Solutions
  • Browning & Sons
  • CH Robinson
  • DMC Farms
  • Frank Howell
  • Frey Farms
  • Gibson Produce
  • Giumarra Cos.
  • Global Produce
  • International Paper
  • Leger & Sons
  • McMelon Inc.
  • Melon 1
  • Melon Acres
  • Perry & Sons
  • Premier Melon
  • SC Packers
  • Schmieding Produce
  • Sweet Mama Produce
  • TMK Produce
  • Vincent Farms
  • Wiggins Farms
  • Wiggins Wholesale

Chris Koger is The Packer’s news editor. E-mail him at [email protected].