Chad Colley received a commission in the U.S. Army in 1966 following graduation from North Georgia College and State University, where he studied mathematics and physics. His campus leadership earned him recognition as a Distinguished Military Graduate and listing in Who’s Who among Students in American Universities.
On July 21, 1968, Colley was the Commanding Officer of an Infantry Company of the famed 101st Airborne Division in Viet Nam. While involved in an air assault operation in enemy-held territory, a land mine explosion threw him into the air. Colley underwent amputation of both legs and his left arm. Yet, just three short days later, he wrote a surprisingly upbeat letter to his wife, Betty Ann. “Even though I’m banged up pretty good, I’m still me. I can put my loss of limbs into an asset. I have a big challenge to undertake now.”
Such steel-willed optimism has carried Colley, who brought home a Silver Star, Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart and other military awards, a long way. Less than one year from his injury, Colley was selling real estate full time. Since then Chad was sales manager for the largest home builder in western Arkansas, a loan manager of a Federal Savings and Loan Association and owner of a Real Estate company dealing with sales, rental management and land development.
Chad’s civic involvement ranges from 15 years as a member of the Sebastian County, Arkansas GOP committee, County Chairman, secretary of the Arkansas State GOP Executive Committee, and a Vice Chair of the Bush/Quayle Veterans Coalition. In 1996, Colley was a National Co Chair of the Veterans Steering Committee for the Dole/Kemp campaign and a prime time platform speaker at the Republican convention in San Diego.
Colley has long been involved in church, charitable and veteran organizations. In 1970, he was recognized nationally as the Disabled American Veteran of the Year. Honors have come from the U.S. Jaycees, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the LIFE Foundation, among many others. In March of 1986 Colley was selected the Handicapped American of the Year in the United States. He received the Trophy, given by President Reagan, in recognition of his continuing efforts, by example and by his active involvement in the plight of this nation’s disabled citizens. President George H. W. Bush selected him as a Vice Chairman of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Colley also served a year as the National Commander of the 1.2 million-member Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization. For seven years Chad served on the Veterans Administration Committee on Rehabilitation, the last three of which he was Chairman. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs recommended Chad and he was selected a Commissioner in the Capitol Assets Realignment for Enhanced Services during the lifetime of the Commission. President Bush appointed Colley as the Vice Chairman of the National Council on Disability for a three year term.
While a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team Chad represented America at the Paralympics in Albertville, France in March of 1992, where he won two Olympic gold medals in the Downhill and SuperGiant Slalom events. Each year he helps fund and conduct a winter sports clinic which brings 300-plus disabled veterans to Colorado for a week of winter sports activity, rehabilitation and just plain fun.
His hobbies include a passion for flying, primarily in his retractable gear Cessna Cardinal, which is no mean feat for a guy with no legs and one hand… Finally, Colley enjoys teaching Bible Studies in his church and at a local Assisted Living facility.
His wife of 41 years is the former Betty Ann Putnam of Atlanta, Georgia. Betty Ann is a physical therapist and her skills have proven invaluable since he returned from Viet Nam just short of their first Anniversary. The greater portion of his accomplishments were directly due to the support and assistance provided by a loving wife. The Colleys have two adult children and three grandsons.