january 1, 2011

Col. Bill Badger, who disarmed Arizona gunman, appeared on GI Go's Veterans NOW Radio Program

Hero of Tucson Shooting Colonel Bill Badger: “My Military Training Made Me React”

Col. Bill Badger, hero of Tuscon Shooting

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Bill Badger, the 74-year-old retired Army Colonel who subdued the shooter during the rampage in Tucson , Arizona last Saturday, credited his military training for the heroism he displayed in preventing more innocent lives from being lost. In an interview on the Veterans NOW Radio Program, Badger discussed how he acted so quickly amidst the chaos in the attack that left 6 dead and 13 injured, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot point blank in the head.

“It was my military training that made me react the way I did,” he said. “I would not have acted without my military training and background.”

Colonel Badger helped bring an end to the tragedy when he took the assailant to the ground as local authorities were alerted of the incident, all despite suffering a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

Badger had attended the rally after exchanging several e-mails with the Congresswoman regarding veterans’ issues. Giffords is familiar with the military world, as she is the wife of Astronaut Mark Kelly, who also serves as a Captain in the U.S. Navy. Badger was invited by the Congresswoman’s staff to attend the event and meet Giffords in person.

“We had communicated back and forth on military matters. Just by email. I had never met her personally. But she was very responsive to me. Whenever I would email her, she would respond back. She was exceptionally good about answering and keeping me informed about what I asked,” he said.

Badger, who himself did not see combat while in the military, said that this experience has given him a newfound appreciation for the mental health issues that current veterans can face when returning home from war.

“I can see now…when something happens to you, how you can respond emotionally,” he said. “I saw a picture on TV recently of people sleeping in the airport during the blizzard on the east coast. I began to choke up because the image of those people lying there reminded me of all the bodies that were around me [during the shooting].”

On the show, Badger discussed his experience through the horrific ordeal. Jack Fanous, Executive Director of the GI Go Fund and Host of Veterans NOW, had the opportunity to speak with Colonel Badger about the heroism he showed in such a terrifying moment.

“He displayed the character and strength of an individual who has served in our military,” said Fanous. “He is 74-years-old, and had just been hit by a bullet in the back of the head. Yet he had the presence of mind to stay calm in an extremely tense and horrifying moment and react. He showed that no matter what the age or circumstances, once a veteran, always a veteran.”