Col. Greg Gadson takes over Fort Belvoir command

Gadson has earned dozens of honors and medals during his decades of service in the Army. Photo: Matt Bookwalter/U.S. Army

It was a change of command ceremony that those who were in attendance will not soon forget.

Greg Gadson, the Army colonel who lost both of his legs in Iraq, became a source of inspiration for an NFL team and later appeared in a big-budget action film, became the new leader of Fort Belvoir on Monday.

Gadson, who has been serving as the director of the Army's Wounded Warrior Program, will take over for Col. John J. Strycula, who has served as base commander since July of 2010. He's now the leader of an installment that houses 46,000 soldiers, civilians and their families.

"I think it's amazing," Maj. Edgar Kanapathy said. "I think the Army has given him a great opportunity.

A 20-year Army veteran, the highly-decorated Gadson graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1989. Through the course of his service, Gadson has been awarded three Bronze Star medals and a Purple Heart among nearly two dozen medals and honors.

"He'll be a great role model, not just for other wounded warriors, but for all of us," Capt. Jenna Burneskis said.

While serving in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007, Gadson lost both of his legs when he was injured by an Improvised Explosive Device. Before that, he also served during Operation Desert Storm, in Bosnia and Afghanistan. He was the commander of a unit in Iraq during the surge to help secure Baghdad as well.

"All I knew after I got wounded was that I still wanted to be a soldier," Gadson said during an interview with ABC 7 in February. "I had an intense desire to be a soldier and to serve."

After he was injured, Gadson became a rallying point for the New York Giants during their run to a Super Bowl title after the 2007 season. He was on the sidelines with the team for that victory and their most recent title, a victory in Super Bowl XLVI over the New England Patriots earlier this year. His connection to the Giants was former quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan, who Gadson played football with at West Point.

More recently, Gadson appeared in the movie Battleship. He even did his own stunts.

"Nobody has done something like this before," he said about his movie role. "What you put your heart and mind into, you can accomplish."

Under Col. Strycula, Fort Belvoir oversaw numerous big projects, including the construction of the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, becoming the home of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and several others.