On Saturday, November 7, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in observance of Veterans Day, will partner with the U.S. Army, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and 11 Good Energy, to present the ninth annual Salute to Veterans, Celebrating Our Nation’s Heroes.
As a part of the day-long recognition, any military veteran or member of the armed forces and their spouse or a guest will be admitted free of charge to the Hall of Fame, receive a specially created commemorative Pro Football Hall of Fame/American flag pin in honor of our nation’s heroes and receive a 10% discount in the museum store.
Highlighting the day-long recognition of our veterans and military will be a special program, scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. in the Hall of Fame’s NFL Films Theater, featuring Army Lt. Colonel Greg Gadson.
Gadson, a standout linebacker at West Point from 1986 to 1988, was commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32 Field Artillery in Iraq when on the evening of May 7, 2007, returning from a memorial service for two soldiers in Baghdad, the vehicle he was riding in hit an improvised explosive device. He was severely wounded resulting in the loss of both legs and a severely damaged right arm.
While recovering from his near-fatal wounds at Walter Reed Army Hospital, a former Army teammate and friend, Mike Sullivan, came by to pay him a visit. Sullivan, who had gone on to become wide receivers coach for the New York Giants shared with Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin the inspirational story of his friend. Coughlin was so moved that he asked Gadson to meet with the then-struggling team. Honored, Gadson agreed and delivered an emotional message about service, duty, perseverance, and adversity. Inspired by his example, Giants players and coaches invited him to watch from the team bench during their remarkable 2007 playoff run. The players named him Honorary Co-Captain at the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
When the long-shot Giants made it to Super Bowl XLII Gadson, his wife and two children were flown out to Phoenix, Arizona for the game. The night before the game he once again spoke to the team. The Giants defeated the New England Patriots capturing their first Super Bowl victory in more than 10 years.
"He is a powerful man with a powerful spirit,” Coughlin told Reader's Digest. "And that is really what he gave us, the idea that the spirit rises above all these adverse conditions.”
"He is unbelievably humble," Sullivan told the Washington Post. "We made him an honorary captain for the Green Bay game, but he said if he could have his dream come true, it would be to go back and be with his unit in Iraq. That's the kind of guy we're talking about."
Gadson served in every major conflict of the past two decades, including Operations Desert Shield/Storm (Kuwait), Operations Joint Forge (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq). His awards include the Bronze Star (3), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and holds a Masters Degree in Information Systems from Webster University and a Masters Degree in Policy Management from Georgetown University.
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