Christian Soldier Col Greg Gadson Addresses USAFA Character Symposium

The US Air Force Academy recently hosted its 2017 National Character and Leadership Symposium, and its keynote speaker was a retired US Army Colonel — and outspoken Christian:

Retired Army Col. Greg Gadson said he’s grateful to be alive…Gadson lost his legs after his armored vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad in May 2007…

“I remember rolling to a stop, lying on my back and just asking God not to let me die here. Then I was unconscious.”

At a 2013 prayer breakfast at Fort Lee, Col Gadson has said the IED attack was a “test of faith” — and one that ultimately turned his life around: 

“Thinking about my life before this incident, I guess I would describe it as being one of a guilty Christian. I believed in God, but I’m not sure I knew or really appreciated how strong my faith was. I probably swore a lot more than I should and did some things I knew weren’t right. Let’s just say there was a whole lot of room for me to improve. But at that moment, God was in my heart and I asked him to not let me die here.”

As a wounded warrior and a former director of the Army Wounded Warrior program, Col Gadson also tells a heart-wrenching story of the transition from round-the-clock medical care and attention to the silence and solitude of going home:

Then Walter Reed released me. “You’re ready to go home now, Colonel.”

I couldn’t wait…“Isn’t it wonderful to be back?” Kim asked, as aides helped me inside. I looked around the house. At the stairs I could no longer climb, at the tight corners where it would take effort for a wheelchair to turn…

The stream of visitors had stopped. There was no hustle and bustle of doctors and nurses. The house was quiet, especially when the kids were in school and Kim had things to do. Everyone’s lives seemed so busy, so full. Mine, not so much. Go to physical therapy, head back home, rest.

It became clear, cruelly clear, how dependent I was…

I used to consider myself the rock of our family. That was my job in life. Now the thought crept into my mind that I was a burden…

Now retired, Col Gadson is a motivational speaker. It seems his new “career” took off when he was famously invited to address the New York Giants locker room in 2007 — after which the Giants not only went on to win the game, but the Super Bowl (PDF).

Col Gadson said that — in retrospect — his life before the explosion wasn’t necessarily as it should have been.  After that day, his life began anew:

[Before], I never considered myself an advertisement for Christ. But everybody has within the power to overcome challenges. This is promised to all of us in the Bible. I didn’t get what I wanted in my life, but you have to come to terms with God’s will, and sometimes you have to have your eyes forced open to recognize that…I wish I could tell you that before this experience I prayed every day, but I didn’t. Yet, at the time of my injury, I had to call on God in a new way. My eyes were opened and my faith engaged. In a way, it was my real Golden Hour.