CSW to Host Survivor of 9-11 Terrorists' Attacks at Maddox Series

2/16/2006.  The Spring 2006 Jack Maddox Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted by College of the Southwest, will present Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Brian Birdwell on Tuesday, March 7.  Birdwell will take the stage at Tydings Auditorium on the Hobbs High School campus, located at 800 North Jefferson, at 7:30 p.m.

Birdwell is a survivor of the terrorist's attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.  After American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, just feet away from his second floor office, Birdwell was thrown to the ground and engulfed in flames. Of the burns that consumed 60 percent of his body, nearly half were third-degree burns. While Birdwell fought for his life, his wife, Mel, was fighting to maintain their faith and their family.  Because of their devotion to God and each other, Birdwell and his wife, along with their son, remained solid in their spiritual convictions and integrity throughout this incredibly difficult ordeal.  After enduring more than 30 operations and months of hospitalization and multiple skin grafts, Birdwell has made a miraculous recovery.  Birdwell communicates a compelling message of enduring hope, unwavering faith, undying patriotism, and unconditional love.

Birdwell is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and a 1984 graduate of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Graduating as the Distinguished Military Graduate through the Army ROTC program, he began his military service in the United States Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was subsequently deployed to serve in South Korea for 18 months.  Upon his return to the United States, he met his future wife, Mel and they married in 1987.

 In 1990, they traveled to their new station in Kitzingen, Germany. While in Germany, Birdwell was deployed for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and earned the Bronze Star for action in the Persian Gulf War.  In 1996 while assigned to duty at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he completed his master's degree at the University of Missouri.  In 1998, he deployed from Fort Lewis, Washington to Central America to be the operations officer for the Joint Task Force executing relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.  After graduation from Command and General Staff College in June of 2000, he reported for duty on the Army staff at the Pentagon. 

At the time of the terrorist attack, Birdwell was serving as the Executive Officer to the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received on September 11, 2001.  He continued to serve in the office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management until his retirement in May of 2004.  The Department of the Army awarded him the Legion of Merit in recognition of a career of service to the nation. 

Upon his retirement, Birdwell now serves as the president of Face the Fire Ministries, which is a 501C3 non-profit which serves critical burn survivors and our nations wounded servicemen and women.

Birdwell is the author of Refined by Fire which chronicles his physical and spiritual journey in the aftermath of the terrorists' attacks.  His book will be available for purchase at the presentation and he will available to sign books after the event.