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Retired Army Col. Gregory Gadson visits Malmstrom

Retired Army Col. Gregory Gadson speaks to Airmen during a special presentation April 11, 2019, at the theater on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Retired Army Col. Gregory Gadson speaks to Airmen during a special presentation April 11, 2019, at the theater on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Gadson spoke to Airmen about staying resilient in the face of adversity. In 2007, Gadson lost both of his legs as a result of a roadside bomb hitting his armored Humvee while on tour in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Retired Army Col. Gregory Gadson recently visited Airmen at Malmstrom Air Force Base to share his testimony and speak to Airmen on exhibiting resiliency.

The decorated Soldier, actor and motivational speaker spoke with and met Airmen at the base theater during a presentation, as part of his two-day visit. Gadson also met with various other groups during his visit, such as base leadership, a first term Airman class, as well as a visit to a missile alert facility.

Gadson commissioned in 1989 as an Army 2nd Lt. from The U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served in every major conflict of the past two decades, to include Operations Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait; Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In May, 2007, while on tour in Iraq, Gadson’s armored Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb, which resulted in him losing both of his legs above the knee, as well as injuries sustained to his arms and hands.

“I vividly remember flying through the air and hitting the ground and coming to a rolling stop,” said Gadson. “I was found about 120 meters from my vehicle. I was fortunate that my teammates… recognized I was missing.”

Upon finding where Gadson lay after the explosion, his teammates began to provide care to him, particularly reflecting on a young private who placed tourniquets on each of his legs to help prevent further blood loss.

Without the care of his teammates, he wouldn’t have survived.

“To give a perspective of my injuries, in the first four to six hours after I was wounded, I would go through 129 units of blood,” Gadson said. “My team saved my life and I’m here today because of them.”

Despite all he endured, Gadson displayed resiliency and continued his life as he had done so before his injuries, to include returning to active duty and eventually taking command as Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Gadson credits his recovery to his faith, family, friends and teammates, but admits it takes a lot of self-focus to persevere through the toughest moments in life.

“We fall into a fallacy that we think we are in control of every aspect of our lives, but we’re not,” said Gadson. “I challenge you to focus your energy on what you can control. Don’t give away your energy to things you can’t control. Focus that energy. Focus it on the power of being the best you can be every day. Every day you have an opportunity to be your best you.”

“Being your best doesn’t happen by just showing up,” Gadson concluded. “It takes hard work, which creates growth. By pushing yourself, that’s how you become your best you. It’s pushing and challenging yourself; you see that you have more in you and doing this leads to good habits, character and builds resiliency.”
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