Silver Star Medal recipient named keynote speaker at Armed Forces Bowl luncheon

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United States Army veteran and Silver Star Medal recipient John Wayne Walding will serve as the keynote speaker at the 2021 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Kickoff Luncheon. 

The annual luncheon, sponsored by Omni Fort Worth Hotel and American Airlines, will take place at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21. Luncheon tickets are on sale at

“I am humbled and grateful to be given the honor of speaking at this year’s luncheon. I want to thank Lockheed Martin and all the organizers of the Armed Forces Bowl. It’s so important to our country and to our soldiers that we continue to recognize the enormous sacrifices it takes to serve. The Armed Forces Bowl is such a public and impactful way to show our appreciation. Again, from the bottom of my heart, I am grateful to those who work tirelessly to make the Armed Forces Bowl happen year-after-year,” said Walding. 

Walding spent 12 years in the Army, including seven in the Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and during his career at 3rd SFG, he served on ODA 396/3336 as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant and the Sniper Detachment as a Sniper Instructor. 

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On April 6, 2008, in the harrowing battle of Shok Valley, Walding lost his leg to sniper fire, yet returned fire for four more hours with his severed lower limb tied to his thigh. For his bravery in battle, Walding received the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart. 

He was also awarded a Combat Infantry Badge, an Airborne Tab, Air Assault Tab and Special Forces Tab. The incredible story of Walding’s six-hour fight in Shok Valley is detailed in the book No Way Out: A Story of Valor in the Mountains of Afghanistan by Mitch Weiss and Kevin Maurer. 

Post-injury, Walding attended Special Forces Sniper School, and upon graduation became the first amputee ever to become a Green Beret Sniper. He went on to compete in the 2009 Boston Marathon, where he finished fourth in the hand crank division, and also placed in the top 10 at the 2009 New York Marathon. Additionally, he completed the Army 10 Miler, the 2016 Dallas Half Marathon and the Bataan Death March, which is one of the hardest marathon routes in the world and also required him to carry a 45-pound rucksack. 

Today, Walding is an entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He has founded two companies­–Gallantry Logistics and Live to Give Beverage Company. Live to Give donates half of the company’s net profits to charities that support active military members, veterans and first responders. 

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Walding and his wife, Amy, reside in Frisco, with their four children: Emma, Sam, Andie and Hannah.

 “We are so honored to welcome Sergeant First Class Walding to our bowl festivities,” said Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. “Our teams and fans at the kickoff luncheon will be treated to profound remarks from a true American hero.” 

“The Bowl For The Brave” has featured the armed forces theme since 2006. Patriotic overtones recognizing all branches of the service are prevalent throughout the game. The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl is one of 17 bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN. The 19th edition will be played Wednesday, Dec. 22, at TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium. A primetime kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT.