Pride, poise and team. Those were the three tenets of organizational success that retired Col. Gregory D. Gadson underscored to Military Engines employees recently during a meeting in the Pratt & Whitney Hangar.
Drawing on his experiences as an officer in the U.S. Army for over 25 years, Gadson delivered a powerful and inspiring guest speech that included lessons of teamwork, perseverance and character.
Gadson's service in the Army culminated as the garrison commander of Fort Belvoir, but it was the story of how he battled adversity to get there that captivated the audience. In May 2007, as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery in Iraq, he was returning to base from a memorial service for two fallen soldiers when an improvised explosive device (IED) cost him both legs above the knees and normal use of his right arm and hand.
After days in critical condition, a Pratt & Whitney-powered C-17 evacuated him from the Air Force Theater Hospital at Balad Air Base, Iraq, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and then finally back to the United States for additional medical care – an aspect of the Air Force's rapid global mobility mission for which he thanked employees.
"So many of us have you to thank, for the pride that you put in and the teamwork you put in being a part of supporting our nation," Gadson said. "I encourage you to live up to the best that you can be, because it does matter. Those aircraft move because of the dedication, professionalism and the pride that you have."
Gadson went on to detail how, in the face of all odds, he remained on active duty in the Army and continued to serve, refusing to be defined by his severe and permanent injuries.