TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Thursday, a decorated soldier-turned-motivational speaker, encouraged teachers at Tyler ISD’s convocation.
Retired US Army Colonel Gregory D. Gadson served in every major conflict in the last two decades before nearly losing his life in Iraq in 2007.
“Ironically, I was attending the funeral for two fellow men who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” says Col. Gadson. “My vehicle was struck by improvised explosive device (IED). The blast lifted my 15,000 pound vehicle off the roadway and ejected me onto the ground.”
It is because of the moment when his life nearly ended that he now provides a different kind of service to others.
“I want people to know, you are not defined by your circumstances, you’re defined by the person you choose to be,” Col. Gadson says.
While his message is reaching people across the nation, it’s also reconnecting him with fellow servicemen. Eric Walter, who now teaches Special Education for Tyler ISD, was in Baghdad the night Col. Gadson was wounded.
“I thought it was amazing, I thought what a small world,” Walter says. “Because you know, here we are in Tyler, Texas all these years later."
Walter says Col. Gadson serves as a reminder of all you can overcome. It’s the message Col. Gadson hopes others take away from his speeches.
“I want them to know that what they do matters; sometimes it doesn’t feel like it and you might feel like giving up, but that’s what I hope they hear,” Col. Gadson says. “I hope they hear that even without the recognition and pay they deserve, they are our future.”
According to the United States Army, Colonel Gadson was one of the first soldiers to be fitted with a next-generation powered prosthetic knee.
He now spends much of his time serving wounded warriors and veterans.