Commander promotes his hero at APG
August 12, 2009
A wounded warrior came to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Aug. 6, to promote a Soldier who saved his life.
Lt. Col. Gregory Gadson, currently a Fellow at the Army War College at Fort Belvoir, Va., drove to the 22d Chemical Battalion's organization day activities at Capa Field on APG's Edgewood Area to pin sergeant stripes on his former battle buddy, Sgt. Eric Brown.
About 300 Soldiers, Family members and unit supporters applauded the emotional event.
"This is significant because this is the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer," said Gadson as he couched his comments. "I couldn't think of any other noncommissioned officer I would be more proud to promote."
Gadson lost both of his legs below the knee when an improvised explosive device detonated next to his up-armored HMMWV in Baghdad on May 7, 2007. The explosion threw him some 200 feet from the vehicle.
After the blast, Brown, the unit's CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) NCO who did double duty as the unit medic, raced from his position in the fourth vehicle of the convoy. He provided first aid to another injured Soldier before locating the colonel, then applied tourniquets to stem Gadson's loss of blood.
"The night of May 7, this man you see with me here today became my hero," Gadson said as he put his arm around Brown.
"He is the reason I am standing here today. If he didn't get those tourniquets on my legs when he did, and prayed with me when he did, I would not be standing here today.
"When I got to the hospital, I had a blood pressure of 40. That night I went through 129 pints of blood. And I tell you that only to tell you how bad off I was. If it wasn't for this young man, I would not be here," Gadson said, solemnly.
Thanking the 22d Chemical Battalion (Technical Escort) leadership for the opportunity to promote his former Soldier, Gadson deflected all attention to his hero.
"This day is truly about Sgt. Brown, who is a quiet professional. He's been that way since he came to 2d Battalion, 32d Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, over two years ago," he said, referring to the battalion he led into battle.
"As you guys know, in these wars on terrorism they ask us to do many things that are not necessarily in our MOS (military occupational specialty), and Brown epitomizes that.
"As a young private first class, when our battalion was asked to perform as an infantry battalion in Baghdad during the surge, we realized we did not have enough medics to cover the density of folks we needed to cover on the battlefield," Gadson explained.
"Because of who he is, because we knew we could count on him, we were able to send Brown to an EMT (emergency medical technician) course at Kansas State University just weeks before we deployed.
"We believed in Brown so much that he was the designated medic in my PSD (Personnel Security Detachment). Everywhere I went, Brown was with me.
"He is a very special young man," said Gadson.
"I also want to recognize his parents, Steve and Kathy Brown, from Usk, Wash.," he continued.
"We all have a notion to serve. We're all in this together. And for such a young man to step up and act with such poise and professionalism says a lot about his upbringing. So Mr. and Mrs. Brown, I thank you for doing such a great job with your son, Eric.
"They say that in life everybody's got an angel," Gadson added. "Well, you're looking at my angel right here...my battle buddy...and there's not a day that I don't think about him and wonder how he's doing. And I know he's going to continue to do great things.
After a short leave to drive his car home to Washington with his father, Brown will deploy to Afghanistan next month.
"I want to thank God for getting me here, and for getting Lt. Col. Gadson here and for everything he's done," Brown said after his new stripes were "tacked on" by Gadson.
"I want to thank my parents and anyone who's pushed me through this so far."