A retired sergeant major from Fort Campbell is among the wounded veterans painted by President George W. Bush in a new book released this week, called Portraits of Courage.
Christopher Self, who is now a contractor at the Army post, was stationed next to an Iraqi prison in Baghdad in 2005 when the inmates tried to escape. In the shooting match that followed, Self was shot twice.
One bullet paralyzed his lower right leg, he says, "so we had the foot amputated in July of 2006, and I returned to duty in May of 2007."
He also was able to return to an active life, with the help of prosthetics. A few years later, Self went to a military rehabilitation clinic in Texas — the Center for the Intrepid — to get fitted for a prosthetic leg for biking, where he happened to meet President Bush touring the facility.
Self says Bush told him: "' Well, you have to come up to my ranch sometime so we can ride together.' And I was like, 'You say time and place sir, I'll be there. You're the boss.' And he said, 'Friday at 9 o'clock.' "
Their biking excursion led to Self's ongoing involvement with Bush's foundation. Still, he says he was surprised to find out that the former president had painted this portrait of him for a book that came out this week.
Self was stationed at Fort Campbell for 23 years, until his retirement in March 2013.