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Face of Defense: Wounded Warrior Promotes His Hero

By Roger Teel
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2009 – A wounded warrior came to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., on Aug. 6 to promote a soldier who saved his life.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Lt. Col. Gregory Gadson, right, promoted a former battle buddy, Army Sgt. Eric Brown, to his present rank during the 22nd Chemical Battalion's organization day activities at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Aug. 6, 2009. Gadson credited Brown with saving his life after a homemade bomb destroyed both of his legs in Iraq in 2007. U.S. Army photo by Roger Teel

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Army Lt. Col. Gregory Gadson, an Army War College Fellow at the Institute for World Politics, drove to the 22nd Chemical Battalion’s organization day activities at Capa Field to pin sergeant stripes on his former battle buddy, Army Sgt. Eric Brown.

About 300 soldiers, family members and unit supporters applauded the emotional event.

“This is significant, because this is the year of the noncommissioned officer,” Gadson said. “I couldn’t think of any other noncommissioned officer I would be more proud to promote.”

Gadson lost both legs below the knee when a homemade bomb detonated next to his up-armored Humvee in Baghdad on May 7, 2007. The explosion threw him some 200 feet from the vehicle. After the blast, Brown, the unit’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear NCO, who did double duty as the unit medic, raced from his position in the fourth vehicle of the convoy. He provided first aid to another injured soldier before locating the colonel, then applied tourniquets to stem Gadson’s loss of blood.

“If he didn’t get those tourniquets on my legs when he did, and prayed with me when he did, I would not be standing here today,” Gadson said. “When I got to the hospital, I had a blood pressure of 40. That night I went through 129 pints of blood. And I tell you that only to tell you how bad off I was,” he added.

Thanking the 22nd Chemical Battalion leadership for the opportunity to promote his former soldier, Gadson deflected all attention to his hero.

“This day is truly about Sergeant Brown, who is a quiet professional. He’s been that way since he came to 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, over two years ago,” Gadson said, referring to the battalion he led into battle.

“When our battalion was asked to perform as an infantry battalion in Baghdad during the surge, we realized we did not have enough medics to cover the density of folks we needed to cover on the battlefield,” Gadson explained. “Because of who he is, because we knew we could count on him, we were able to send Brown to an emergency medical technician course at Kansas State University just weeks before we deployed.”

Brown was a private first class at the time, the colonel said.

“They say that in life everybody’s got an angel,” Gadson added. “Well, you’re looking at my angel right here -- my battle buddy -- and there’s not a day that I don’t think about him and wonder how he’s doing. And I know he’s going to continue to do great things.”

Brown will deploy to Afghanistan in September. “I want to thank God for getting me here,” he said at his promotion ceremony, “and for getting Lieutenant Colonel Gadson here and for everything he’s done.”

(Roger Teel serves in the 20th Support Command public affairs office.)

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