Col. Gadson hands over command of Ft. Belvoir

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (WUSA9) -- He may be best known as a movie star but his more important role has been Commander of Fort Belvoir. On Wednesday, Col. Gregory Gadson said his goodbyes in a change of command ceremony.

However the history he made in the armed services will continue to serve as an inspiration to others.

Col. Gregory Gadson, who has led Fort Belvoir for the past two years, became a role model for wounded warriors everywhere.

Wednesday, in a change of Command ceremony, Col. Gadson handed over the Belvoir Colors, and commander role to Col. Michelle Mitchell.

"I'm fired up and I'm ready to lead. Army Strong. Thank you, Hooah!" exclaimed Col. Mitchell.

That can-do attitude defines her predecessor, who became the first double amputee, with both legs gone above knee, to command an Army post. He lost both legs and normal use of his right arm in an IED explosion in Iraq in 2007.

"I really don't want to define myself as a wounded warrior, you know. I'm a warrior, and I happened to get wounded like many others. Visible and invisible. Really, what I hope to share, regardless of whatever your status, is life goes on and you can overcome. And so we have an obligation to do the best we can every day," said Gadson.

"You don't see that wheelchair. You see a leader. An Army leader," said Don Carr, Director of Public Affairs at Fort Belvoir.

The West Point football star hit national fame when he was tapped to play a role as a wounded warrior in the action thriller Battleship which starred Rihanna in her film debut.

Besides serving in Iraq, Col. Gadson has served in every major conflict over the past two decades. His many awards include two Legion of Merit Medals, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. Plus, he leaves a legacy of leadership, and a historical first at Fort Belvoir.

"He's such a great leader. Such a great commander. And he cares about soldiers, families and civilians. And I tell you, his whole heart, for the last two years, have been thinking about Fort Belvoir. And how he can make the installation better," said Sgt. Major James McGruder.

Col. Gadson is retiring from the Army but plans to stay involved helping soldiers where he can. Gadson and his wife Kim, who is a Fairfax County school teacher, have two adult children. His son is following in his footsteps attending West Point.

Written by Peggy Fox


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