Originally created 11/27/05

Riding accident kills colonel



The head of optometry services at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon died after a horseback riding accident, officials said Saturday.

Col. Edward F. "Buzz" Bzdula, 54, died after being thrown from a horse while riding in rural Aiken County on Friday afternoon, said Jennifer Chipman, an Eisenhower spokeswoman.

Ms. Chipman said Col. Bzdula suffered massive facial and head trauma.

He was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital's trauma unit, where he was pronounced dead at 2:40 p.m., said Aiken County Chief Deputy Coroner Darryl Ables.

Mr. Ables said the accident happened between noon and 12:30 p.m. Friday, as Col. Bzdula was riding horseback at Hitchcock Woods, off Dibble Road.

Ms. Chipman said she was not sure with whom the colonel was riding at the time of the accident.

At the time of his death, Col. Bzdula was serving as the chief of optometry service at Eisenhower, and served as an optometry consultant for Southeast Regional Medical Command, based at the hospital.

Col. Bzdula, a 1981 graduate of the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn., previously served at Army hospitals in El Paso, Texas; Fort Polk, La.; and Fort Belvoir, Va., according to Eisenhower.

He served as the division optometrist for the 1st Armored Division, in Furth, Germany, and also served with the 1st Infantry Division in Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War.

He is survived by his mother, Mary Bzdula, of Evans, and his sister, Gloria Bzdula, of Massachusetts.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete Saturday afternoon, Ms. Chipman said, but she said Col. Bzdula will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Ms. Chipman said Col. Bzdula will be missed at Eisenhower.

"He was a sweetheart," she said.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.

COL. EDWARD F. "BUZZ" BZDULA

Age: 54

Education: Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry, Southern College of Optometry, Memphis, Tenn., 1981; Air War College Seminar Program, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, 1997

Awards: Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (five awards), Army Commendation Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation, Combat Medical Badge, Expert Field Medical Badge, Order of Military Medical Merit, Surgeon General's "A" proficiency designator

Family: Mother, Mary Bzdula, Evans; sister, Gloria Bzdula, Massachusetts

Source: Public Affairs Office, Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center