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Garrison Commander of Hunter Army Airfield encourages attendees at Fort Gordon prayer breakfast

Lt. Col. Kenneth Dwyer lost his left eye and hand after he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during his third combat tour to Afghanistan in 2006. In telling his story, he encouraged attendees to focus on being positive, fulfilling a purpose and having a sense of humor.

MICHAEL HOLAHAN/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE (TNS)

By NEFETERIA BREWSTER | The Augusta Chronicle (Tribune News Service) | Published: February 6, 2018

Slide after slide, Lt. Col. Kenneth Dwyer displayed photos of his injuries along with pictures of his family and fellow service members and friends as he told the story of his recovery to more than 200 attendees of the National Prayer Breakfast at Fort Gordon.

The current Garrison Commander of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah lost his left eye and hand after he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during his third combat tour to Afghanistan in 2006.

But the keynote speaker for the annual prayer breakfast encouraged attendees to focus on three things — being positive, fulfilling a purpose and having a sense of humor.

“(These are) three things that allow us to build resiliency in ourselves and others,” he said Tuesday.

He paused to reflect on two slides of himself with his son, Timothy, who was 3-years-old at the time of the incident.

One showed Dwyer with his son smiling at his side, the other pictured the two with a black pirate patch over their left eyes. The photos, which were taken shortly after doctors amputated his hand and removed his left eye, alluded to Dwyer’s first point to keep positive people close.

“I like to show this picture because when I think of the positive people in my life my family is the first that comes to mind,” he said. “And bringing people together to fellowship, and to eat, and to pray, and to be thankful and to have conversation about how we can move forward in a positive direction, that’s surrounding yourself with positive people.”

Another slide displayed a picture of Dwyer’s daughter, Julia, cuddling with his prosthetic arm. A photo of Dwyer, his two children and his wife, Jennie, prior to his departure for his fourth deployment soon followed.

The images were synonymous to Dwyer’s advice to find purpose even when faced with obstacles.

“This is stuff that we talk about everyday but how many of you have actually sat down and taken a hard look at yourself and thought ‘what is the purpose for me being here?’” he asked. “Find purpose in your life and live that purpose everyday. That’s what’s required of us; to love and care for our men, to not do what will bring glory on ourselves but to do what will allow them to succeed.”

Along with building a sense of purpose Dwyer also encouraged attendees to build a sense of humor.

“In order to have resiliency you have to have a sense of humor,” Dwyer said. “We all go through tough times and we all have challenges, but if we can get to that point where we truly embrace the struggle of life it allows us to grow; that makes everybody better and in the Army that’s something we really need.”

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©2018 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.)
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