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War hero inspires NWA attendees

WAIKOLOA, HI — Faced with an uncertain future after an IED attack left him gravely injured, retired U.S. Army Major Ed Pulido summoned the strength and courage to turn a near-death experience into a call to action to help others.

Pulido was serving in Iraq in 2004, when a roadside bomb exploded, causing severe injuries to his leg and arm, as well as a traumatic brain injury. He was evacuated to Germany, and then Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. There, doctors worked hard to make him whole, but despite their best efforts, they were unable to save his leg.IMG 1756Retired U.S. Army Major Ed Pulido with NWA Executive Director Bob Morrissey.

In a keynote presentation, here, Feb. 22 to attendees of the National Watermelon Association’s 105th annual convention, Pulido spoke of the experience and the path his life has taken since that day. Alternating between being humorous, serious and emotional, Pulido said he is proud of his new mission in life and wants nothing more than to help others.

“My leg was taken away, but I still have my spirit. I think when I received blood transfusions, I got some female blood because I cry and get emotional all the time,” he said with a laugh.

NWA Executive Director Bob Morrissey, who served as the interviewer of Pulido during the presentation, said he met Pulido five years ago and they felt an instant connection. “I am so proud and honored that he considers me a friend,” Morrissey told the audience.

Morrissey then asked Pulido about his thought process just after the attack.

“I saw the light come down on me when the medics were working on me, and I asked God for a second chance,” he said. “I was enlightened. It was at that point that I changed and decided that I needed to do things for others. Sometimes we look at things negatively, but we should realize that we are truly blessed. We need to be purposeful, respectful and honorable to each other and our country. We need more of that today.”

Morrissey asked Pulido how his message might translate to NWA members in their everyday lives and businesses.

Pulido suggested that everyone needs a motto or a guiding principle to follow in his or her lives and careers. “Mine is Mission First, Team Always,” he said. “We all need to cross the finish line. I tell young people that they need to be passionate about what they do in order to achieve success. You here are all obviously passionate, and it is amazing that [NWA] has 105 years of doing what you love.”

Pulido then listed his tenets of success and suggested that everyone can benefit by embracing those. “They are resiliency, intelligence, duty, passion, impeccability, teamwork, selfless service, planning, loyalty, perseverance and flexibility.”

Asked by Morrissey what the nicest thing anyone has ever done for him, Pulido said, “When I was going through treatments, one of my therapists told me I needed help. Sometimes people can help you recognize what your failures are in order for you to overcome them. I got the help I needed and I am thankful for that. Honesty is a very powerful thing.”

Morrissey then applauded Pulido for his ability to maintain a positive and constructive approach to life, saying, “After losing your leg, your life could have gone in a number of negative ways, such as substance abuse or depression, but you chose a positive route and are fighting for war veterans.”

“I don’t look at my situation as a disability,” replied Pulido. “It changed me and made me realize that you can’t give up on life. At the same time, you need to find a way to manage stress, because stress kills. Your industry has a lot of challenges, but you can never give up. You must always persevere.”

Pulido has received numerous awards and commendations, including the Bronze Star with Valor, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, and Joint Service Commendation and Achievement Medals. Additionally, he is the senior vice president of the Folds of Honor Foundation, a veteran’s charity that provides educational scholarships to the spouses and children of the fallen and wounded. He is a founding member of Warriors for Freedom Foundation, a leadership institute focused on the mental, physical and wellness support of our wounded veterans and their families. Finally, he is the founder of Warrior Nation, a movement focused on the rights of liberty, freedom and patriotism, and he has published an autobiography titled Warrior for Freedom: Challenge, Triumph and Change, the Major Ed Pulido Story.  

In closing the session, Morrissey announced a donation on behalf of NWA to the Folds of Honor Foundation.

“Major Ed, It is my honor, on behalf of the National Watermelon Association, that we announce our donation of nine scholarships totaling $45,000 to the Folds of Honor Foundation,” said Morrissey. “Your visit with us this morning inspired our attendees, caused eyes to well up, and was truly heartfelt. You are an American hero to us, and we are blessed that you shared your experience, time and military life with us.”