Brian Kolfage Motivational Veteran Speaker

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The George C. Lang Award for Courage Presented To Brian Kolfage

BRIAN KOLFAGE JR.

Senior Airman Brian Kolfage Jr. was awarded the 2014 George C. Lang Award for Courage, not only for his fearlessness, but his selflessness. On September 11, 2004, Brian was deployed to Balad, Iraq, where he was severely injured by a rocket-shell explosion. His fellow servicemen immediately came to his aid, ultimately saving his life. During his recovery, Brian wanted to ensure his battle buddies were acknowledged for their bravery and heroism. The United States Air Force recognized their efforts with the Bronze Star Medal with Valor.

Brian lost both of his legs and right arm during the explosion, but he was determined not to let his injuries define him. He credits a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) ski event with helping him kick-start his rehabilitation and adjust to his new life.

Today, Brian is a graduate of the University of Arizona School of Architecture and is enjoying life as a new dad. Brian Kolfage and his wife, Ashley, make time to visit wounded service members and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, answering questions and offering new hope for the future. Much like George C. Lang himself, Brian Kolfage is the perfect example of a warrior living the WWP logo. Brian has gone from the warrior being carried and receiving support to the warrior on the bottom, carrying other warriors forward on their journeys to recovery.

 

ABOUT THE AWARD

This award was founded in memory of George C. Lang, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and friend of WWP. George passed away on March 16, 2005.

This award is bestowed upon an individual who best exemplifies the spirit and virtue of Mr. Lang, who was a humble, yet unyielding behind-the-scenes advocate for all veterans – especially those with disabilities. Although he shunned the spotlight, preferring to work on behalf of his fellow veterans in anonymity, George’s service both during and after the Vietnam War merited public acclaim and recognition. While he shied away from public attention, he never stopped supporting his brethren, his fellow veterans. George took time to visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, hoping these young men and women would draw strength from his experiences in adjusting to and living with a combat-related disability. George C. Lang epitomized what it meant to be a wounded warrior, broken in body but not in spirit, soldiering on in support of his fellow service members.

Past recipients include Jeremy Feldbusch & Family, Heath Calhoun, Dan Nevins, John Fernandez, Eric Edmundson & Family, Justin Constantine, Ted and Sarah Wade, Danielle Green-Byrd.

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Senior Airman Brian Kolfage

A heroic story of survial

Brian Kolfage is handed an American flag from his daughter at the NYC veterans day parade- 2014

Brian Kolfage is handed an American flag from his daughter at the NYC veterans day parade- 2014

Brian is NOT available for speaking engagements at this time, please check back later.   

Brian Kolfage isn’t just the most severely wounded US Airman to survive his wounds, he’s a motivational speaker who inspires Americans to a greater success, with a powerful message of being resilient in the face of adversity.  If you’re looking for a veteran speaker, allow Brian to be the warrior who not only motivates your group but will inspire them to be better people in their daily life.

Brian Kolfage endured a life-changing event that would have sent someone of lesser spirit into a downward spiral. But for this former SF Airman turned Architect life is about looking forward to what you can do, not what you cannot.

Then Senior Airman Kolfage was on his second deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. On September 11, 2004 after working a night shift at Balad Air Base, Iraq, he awoke in the afternoon, left his tent to get some water and walked no more than 25 feet when the airbase came under a rocket attack. It would be the last time he would walk on the legs he was born with. A 107mm rocket shell exploded about three feet from Airman Kolfage. He was thrown several feet in the air and landed against a wall of sandbags, still conscious, and began calling for help.

Airman Kolfage’s best friend was thrown from his bed during the attack. He heard the screams and rushed outside to find his friend bloody, mangled, and clinging to life. The Airman and a medic rushed to help Airman Kolfage, who was struggling to breathe with only one lung after the other had collapsed. Brian’s friend desperately tried to divert his attention from the seriousness of his injuries, but calmly, Airman Kolfage assured him that he already knew the extent of his wounds, and that he just wanted to go home to his family.

Despite suffering multiple amputations and the looming possibility of death, Airman Kolfage still maintained incredible strength and courage throughout his recovery. The fact that no one with his level of amputation has ever been able to walk independently didn’t discourage him. With undiminished spirit, he still saw opportunities and worked with feverish determination through his physical therapy program, gaining strength and balance every day.

Incredibly, Brian walked out of Walter Reed only 11 months after being injured; this is unheard of. Till this day he is still the most severely wounded Airman to survive any war. After leaving the hospital he immediately continued his service to the Air Force, and was assigned to Davis Monthan AFB 355 SFS as the base security manager. Brian furthered his service to the community by proudly accepting to be on Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s Veterans Advisory Committee. He provided crucial inside information to help the congresswoman make vital decisions which helped veterans nationally. He was invited by the Congresswoman to be her special guest at the 2012 Presidential State of The Union Address when she resigned. Brian continues to work for his local congressman on the veterans advisory committee.

Brian is a now 2014 graduate from the University of Arizona’s School of Architecture, where he rose among the ranks to the top of his class. He never let the daunting tasks of learning to draw without his dominant right hand affect his ability to perform. With persistence and determination he has beat the odds that were stacked against him and recently was awarded one of the most prestigious military scholarship’s, the Pat Tillman Scholar award. Brian continues to embrace a positive attitude as he makes great strides, both literally and figuratively, in learning how to walk with his prosthetics.

Brian and his wife continue to make trips back to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit with newly wounded vets, his insight and ability to connect with the veterans gives them new hope for their future. In 2014 Brian was bestowed the most honorable award that a wounded warrior can receive, the George C. Lang Award for Courage, not only for his fearlessness, but his selflessness actions of taking care of other wounded veterans who were in need of mentoring