Strength through resiliency

Story by Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Lyddane

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1st Lt. Holdun Reed with the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery and his girlfriend, Jasmine at the 2015 St. Barbara’s Dining Out in Bowling Green, Ky., Dec. 5, 2015. Reed is an award-winning body builder competing in regional events. (Courtesy photo)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — According to the TRADOC Standardized Physical Training Guide, physical fitness is defined as having “the ability to effectively function in work, training and other activities while maintaining optimal health and well-being.” Many of our Kentucky Guardsman know and understand this notion, but 1st Lt. Holdun Reed embraces it.

Throughout the past year his mental fortitude, determination, and hard work has afforded him the opportunity to compete as a natural body builder. Reed recently competed in the Kentucky Derby Championships, Natural Kentucky Championships, and Kentucky Muscle Championships. He represented both himself and the National Guard well by dominating the competition, taking first place in Physique Novice Class B, third place in Physique Open Class B, and won Overall Physique Novice Champion, respectively.

“Body building gives me something to work towards,” Reed said. “I feel that I am an athlete at heart and have found my sport.”

Competent leaders lead by example, overcome adversity, and are able to persevere through the toughest challenges. Reed has proven that he possesses those traits. Reed serves as a platoon leader for Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery located in Bardstown, Kentucky.

He deployed with the unit to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom from October of 2006 to February 2008. Not long after returning home, Reed was severely burned in an automobile fire.

“There were more challenges than I can remember, I woke up in pain for nearly eight months,” he said.

He endured a major surgery to repair the burned areas and skin was grafted from his legs to replace the skin that had been burned away on his arms. He attributes the love and support of his friends and family and especially his girlfriend who stuck beside him every step of the way. For some, this may have negatively impacted their motivation. For Reed, this was a driving force that created a more intense desire to achieve his goals.

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1st Lt. Holdun Reed and his girlfriend Jasmine both place in their respective categories at the 2015 Kentucky Muscle Championships in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

“My parents raised me with the attitude to let nothing stop me from achieving my goals. They told me to never make excuses but instead create solutions.”

After a full recovery, Reed felt there was more he could do in uniform. With years of honing his leadership skills as a Non-Commissioned Officer under his belt, and completing his degree in Business Management and Administration at Western Kentucky University, he decided to challenge himself by attending Officer Candidate School in 2012.

As an artillery officer, Reed is an expert in fire support, observed firing tactics, fire direction procedures, and well versed in platoon leadership. He is a firm believer that great leaders can transform people and encourage the best out of a unit; he has known that type of leader and wanted to follow in their footsteps.

Reed said that as an officer, the challenge is greater because of the requirement to not only provide guidance to subordinates but juggle that responsibility with being a role model and mentor. If you ask Reed’s chain of command, you’ll hear similar comments.

“Lt. Reed has faced many challenges in his life, but continues to demonstrate a true resiliency to persevere,” said Col. Rob Larkin, commander of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade. “His work ethic in and out of uniform has helped him become a well-rounded officer who sets a fine example for others to follow.”

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1st Lt. Holdun Reed takes 1st place in his category at the NPC Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville, Ky., April 25, 2015. (courtesy photo)

Now with five body building awards under his belt, Reed plans to continue competing and challenging himself. Body building has similar requirements to that of being a Soldier, it involves a tremendous amount of focus and commitment – Reed knows this all too well. Leading up to competitions takes hours of time in a gym, knowledge of the human anatomy, and strict adherence to a diet regimen.  Similar to the way he uses his position to influence, mentor, and encourage other service members in his unit.

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