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Local war hero who appeared in movie to retire from Army

Saturday - 6/28/2014, 4:31pm  ET

Gregory Gadson (Courtesy Fort Belvoir)
Col. Gregory D. Gadson is a native of Chesapeake, Va. (Courtesy Fort Belvoir)

Larger than life war hero leaves Fort Belvoir

WTOP's Kathy Stewart

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WASHINGTON -- There will be a change of command at Fort Belvoir as a war hero hands over the reins.

Col. Gregory Gadson is handing over the garrison command after two years. He'll be honored Wednesday during a ceremony.

Gadson says although he plans on retiring from the Army this year after 25 years of service, he will continue to share his life and make a difference.

Before taking command at Fort Belvoir, he headed up the Army's Wounded Warrior program for two years. He wanted to be a quiet example to those who were going through the same experience he already endured.

In 2007, the colonel was seriously injured in Iraq while returning from a memorial service for two soldiers. His truck was hit by an IED; he lost both of his legs above the knee.

"Without saying anything, I could just say there's life after injury and that you can come out on the other side," Gadson says. "Don't be afraid to ask for help since you can't do this alone."

Gadson says he owes his resolve to faith, family and friends.

"I refused to let my injuries define me because of their love, unconditional love by my family. They didn't view me any differently; I was still Greg," he says.

He says he experienced struggles, but "faith allowed me to accept what happened ... and [in] doing so, I healed and was able to move forward."

Gadson is also a movie star, of sorts. He appeared in the sci-fi movie "Battleship."

The colonel also has two Super Bowl rings from Super Bowl 42 and 46. "I'm honestly humbled to have two Super Bowl rings," he says.

Shortly after getting out of Walter Reed he became an inspiration for the struggling New York Giants as the team was about to play in the 2007 Superbowl. His connection to the team was Mike Sullivan, who was part of the Giants coaching staff.

"We thought it would be inspirational if I spoke to the team the night before the game," he says. Gadson had played football at West Point with Sullivan and Sullivan had visited Gadson in the hospital shortly after he was wounded. The team went on to win the Superbowl in 2007 and in 2011.

"When I was wounded, my whole family was wounded. It changed our lifestyle. It changed our lives. It affected my parents, it affected my friends. It affected so many people that were close to me in ways that I can't even articulate. And so we have to remember those families because it does change lives. It's an underappreciated aspect of the price and the sacrifice that our service members and family members make."

Gadson's successor as the new garrison commander at Ft. Belvoir is Col. Michelle Mitchell, a native of Hebron, Md

The colonel has been deployed to serve in every major conflict in the last 20 years. But what he's proudest of during his 25 years of military service is being commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32 Field Artillery, and the Proud Americans.

That battalion didn't exist before August 2005.

"We stood that battalion up," Gadson says. "It was a real special experience to grow a battalion and take it to combat, and everyone came back alive."

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