The Armed Services Blood Bank invited U.S. Military Academy graduate and former Black Knights football player retired Col. Gregory Gadson, Class of 1989, to attend the West Point Blood Drive and speak with the Vanguard Battalion at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School. He served as a motivational speaker after attending a luncheon with the cadets."I think today I felt like I was really imparting this journey of life to them and holding yourself accountable to be your best," Gadson said. "It's not about competing against other folks, just competing against yourself." Gadson served in every major conflict in the past two decades. During a deployment to Baghdad, Iraq in 2007, he was severely wounded. He lost both legs and required 129 units of blood to survive."Getting behind these blood drives is so important. I would not be here today if we did not have this kind of support. It truly is the gift of life," Gadson said. "When you think about giving blood, you can actually say you're giving life to someone, giving them a fighting chance, and I just want to impress upon the folks here that this is what they're doing. This is not just going through the motions, but you are actually making a difference in someone's life."Gadson's military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, two Legion of Merits, three Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, three Meritorious Service Medals and three Army Commendation Medals.He holds a master's degree in information systems from Webster University, another in Policy Management from Georgetown University and has an honorary Doctorate of Law from Webster University."I want to emphasize that we are coming out of the holiday season, and with the current world events that are going on, we do not want to be too late. So please take a moment and give blood," he said.The Armed Forces Blood Program's Blood Drive took place Monday through Wednesday at West Point and is an annual event held every January by AFBP.