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Double amputee soldier takes command of Fort Belvoir


Col. Gregory Gadson, right, attends a ceremony where he assumes command of U.S. Army Fort Belvoir. He is sitting next to outgoing commander Col. John Strycula, left, and Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, center, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. on Monday.

A soldier injured by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2007 became the first double amputee to take command of a major military installation, the Army reported on its home page on Wednesday.

Col. Gregory Gadson officially assumed command of 47,000-troop-strong Fort Belvoir, Va., on Monday.

The West Point graduate lost both his legs above the knees and suffered a severe injury to his right arm when his vehicle hit an IED on May 7, 2007, as he returned from a memorial service for fellow soldiers in Baghdad, according to the army report.

Gadson, who wears two prosthetics with what the military calls "next-generation powered knees," requested to stay on active duty after his injuries rather than take medical retirement, it said. He spent two years heading up the Army Wounded Warrior program.

"He was able to reassure personally those newly wounded who are looking down a long road to recovery and to motivate soldiers and civilians alike," said Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, who presented Gadson his command colors at the fort, just outside Washington, D.C.

"He has shown that it isn't about what you cannot do, it's about what you can do," Ferriter said, according to the army report. "He's able to lead and get right to things that need to happen."

Gadson served in the Army for more than 20 years as a field artillery officer, according to a profile on the Fort Belvoir web site. His military career has included deployments to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Kuwait, Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Prior to his injuries in Iraq in 2007, he was commanding a new unit as part of the surge to secure Baghdad.

The Fort Belvoir web site said outgoing commander Col. John Strycula, who headed up the installation for two years, was heading to Afghanistan for his next assignment.

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