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

“To be upset about what you don’t have is to waste what you do have”

 “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out” 

“Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer”

Here's What

People Are Saying

Now here is an American with no fear

Herman Cain 2012 Presidential candidate

Everyone who heard you speak wants you to address their group, their club, their employees, their soldiers, sailors and marines. Your talk was the best and brightest I’ve ever heard at any of the navy league events I’ve attended since 1979 (The year I first joined). You are an inspiration. Your ability to get through life’s bumps (which in your case was a major sink hole) with a positive attitude inspires all who come in contact with you.

Dave LivingstonPresidentNavy League of the United States

On Friday, October 17th, at Andrada Polytechnic High School, approximately 700 teenagers sat on a concrete floor listening intently to Brian Kolfage tell them about his war injuries and how he overcame those obstacles.  You could hear a pen drop as Brian shared with the students.  It allowed the students to put their own difficulties and obstacles into perspective.  And when he was done their applause indicated that they appreciated Brian sharing his story and for his service.  We were amazed to see that nearly half of the students had family members who were veterans or currently in the military.  Many of the students went up to Brian afterwards to thank him.  It was a great reminder to be thankful for what we have.

MarkVail School District Vail, Arizona

Brian’s story is a one of courage and healing. His traumas of battle, physical and emotional, were not met with resentment or anger, but with courage and hope. He speaks with an attitude of looking ahead with commitment to family and continued support of our brave men and women who put their lives on the line. Finally, his message shared with humility in his tone to adults and students alike is one of gratitude and never giving up.

Rick Vice ChairmanFisher House, AZ


“Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful”

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“Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer”

Here's What

Senior Airman Brian Kolfage is Saying


Brian Kolfage Traveled to NYC to be in the Veterans Day Parade + Events

  • November 19, 2014
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We had a great time visiting with veterans from WWII up to Iraqi freedom. Philanthropist and veterans advocate Lois Pope and award-winning filmmaker Ric Burns invited us to attend the world premiere of “Debt of Honor,” a documentary on the history of disabled American veterans directed by Mr. Burns and executive produced by Mrs. Pope, […]

“Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer”