Double amputee inspires troops in Europe

By USAG Baden-Wuerttemberg Public AffairsOctober 5, 2009

Lt. Col. Greg Gadson in Schweinfurt
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, a double amputee who wears the Power Knee 2, a next-generation powered prosthetic with artificial intelligence and sensor technology, shares his experiences during the rehabilitation process with a Soldier in Schweinfurt, German... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Lt. Col. Greg Gadson visits Kaiserslautern
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, a wounded warrior who lost both his legs below the knee when an improvised explosive device detonated next to his up-armored Humvee in Baghdad in May of 2007, poses for a photograph with Soldiers at Kleber Gym in Kaiserslautern,... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Lt. Col Greg Gadson and his wife, Kim, have been traveling the military communities of Europe, spreading their message of inspiration, hope and overcoming adversity.

Gadson, a former outside linebacker at West Point and combat veteran of the Army, is currently serving as a fellow at the War College.

He's also a double amputee, losing both legs above the knee in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq May 7, 2007.

"I'm here today because my team saved my life," Gadson told the crowd gathered at the Patrick Henry Village Pavilion in Heidelberg Sept. 30. "My team was no different than you all sitting out here in the audience today. They were Soldiers who answered the call ... they stepped up and answered the call for our nation, for our unit and for each other."

The improvised explosive device blew up the vehicle he was riding in as they returned to Camp Liberty from a memorial service for two Soldiers who had been killed. Gadson was ejected from the vehicle. His team found him, got the tourniquets on his legs, and saved his life.

Gadson said that night at the 29th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq, he went through 129 pints of blood. Four days later he arrived at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He lost his left leg first, and ultimately made the decision to lose his right leg also.

Gadson shares his story with military community members and fellow Soldiers to help encourage them that they can overcome and excel. On his European tour, he made stops in Kaiserslautern, Vicenza, Vilseck, Schweinfurt and Heidelberg.

"I asked 'why'' 10,000 times, and you find out you never really find an answer," he said. "My faith became the cornerstone for me dealing with this. My faith tells me I'm not going to have an answer to this. I didn't wonder who did this to me; I don't care what happened to him. I don't care. It's in the past, and it's not going to do a thing to bring my legs back."

Reaching that conclusion, he said, was a pivotal point in the healing process for him and his family.

Kim Gadson spreads the word about how important it is to build strong bonds and relationships with other families. Get to know each other, she said, so that if something happens, you already know them well enough that you don't even have to ask what they need. She told the story of a family friend who delivered groceries to them every week at Walter Reed - knowing exactly what they needed without even asking.

"Our Army Family was really a key portion of what helped us get through our trauma," she said.

Kim also advised the audience to not be afraid to ask for help. She compared the situation with preparing for a move - whether it's a physical move to another post, or a mental move to another place inside, you should never be afraid to ask for help, she said.

"You wouldn't try to move to another post without calling transportation for help," she said. "Call for professional help if you're trying to move to another place emotionally."

The Gadsons shared their story in the hopes of helping other Army families, and encouraging them to stay strong should something like Greg's situation happen to them.

"It's not anything that you all inside of you don't have," he said. "You have inside of you an ability to survive and overcome."

Gadson, who once spoke to the New York Giants before a game to offer encouragement to the team, told the audience of Soldiers, civilians and family members to remember that they are a team.

"You're a part of the greatest team this world has ever seen - the United States Army."