DALLAS — He's a Texan born on the 4th of July, who served his country in the Army special forces and lost a leg in an infamous battle in Afghanistan. So, John Wayne Walding doesn't need any help being patriotic. But he's upping the ante anyway, with a bottle of water.
If you have the chance to take a drive with Walding in his F250 truck, you notice all the names embroidered on the center console.
They are the names of 30 friends he lost in war, including American Sniper Chris Kyle.
"It's a daily reminder to live well for the fallen," he said. "When I get the booboo lip out and start feeling sorry for myself and all the problems that I have, when I do this right here and I put my arm on my brothers," he said as he placed his right arm on the center console, "it reminds me that I should live well for them."
He's chosen to live well, even though he's had every reason not to. A sniper's bullet severed his right leg in the Battle of Shok Valley in Afghanistan in 2008. But even as an amputee, that giving back and living well thing he talked about, he's been walking that walk ever since.
He co-founded a company called Live to Give. The bottled water company donates 50% of net profits to charities supporting military veterans and first responders and their families.
"We give every day Americans the ability to give back daily," he said.
Already for sale on Amazon and a growing list of stores, he says this is no gimmick.
"Well to a cynic it's absolutely going to be a gimmick, right? But to me for someone that lost their leg for this country this is absolutely what I believe in," he said. Walding is the recipient of the Silver Star, Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
"Regardless of your politics you're still going to have men and women down range protecting this country and they still are going to need this help and that's why I'm doing it."
On Wednesday, Walding stood at the White House with fellow survivors of that Afghanistan battle as friend and fellow soldier Master Sgt. Matthew Williams became the second from that battle to receive the Medal of Honor.
"Yesterday was one of the best moments of my civilian life," he said. "You know I'm just a redneck from Groesbeck, Texas and to be able to say that I'm just a team member of one of the most decorated special forces ODA's (Operational Detachment Alpha) in history, man it's humbling."
And he finds this next effort humbling too, believing that perhaps by offering something as simple as a bottle of water he can pay tribute to those names in his truck and, with the help of civilians purchasing Live to Give water, help the brothers who are still here.
"That's the bill that I owe for the rest of my life, is to be awesome for their life."
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