Darrin Crowder: Onward Christian Soldier
By Mia Evans
The 700 Club
Out of the thousands of U.S. soldiers serving our country, only a select few have earned the privilege to wear the Green Beret, the symbol of the army’s elite Special Forces. In 1989, Darrin Crowder made the cut.
“It was about 18 months of very difficult training,” Darrin said. “I gave my all and there was no way I was going to quit. They were going to have to drag me off on a stretcher or something; so just by perseverance I was able to make it.”
That fighting spirit was instilled in Darrin early on by his mother. His father died from cancer when Darrin was only four.
“It was difficult growing up without a dad. I always felt that I had to figure out how to do stuff on my own. Great relationship with my mom and my sister; we were tight,” Darrin said. “But it was difficult trying to determine what a man was supposed to be, what I was supposed to do as a guy.”
His father had one dying wish: that his children would grow up in church. Darrin’s mom kept that promise, but when Darrin got out on his own, he stopped going. He struggled to find his own way. So at 17, he joined the army. He excelled as a soldier and soon joined the 5th Special Forces group. Darrin spent 16 years of his decorated military career stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He faced unimaginable pressure fighting on the front lines in the Gulf War, Afghanistan and the war in Iraq.
Darrin could handle the pressure that came with the job. He earned a purple heart and two bronze stars. It was life at home that overwhelmed him. Darrin had to be in control, and had a hard time controlling his anger - a combination that led to the failure of two marriages. When his second wife left him, Darrin turned back to God for help.
“I just realized that I had tried all those years to be in control and in doing so, had just made a complete mess of my whole life,” he said. “In the back of my mind were those words from my mother and the teaching of my Sunday school teachers, my pastor, when I was a kid, of telling me who was really in control. And it was at that moment that I just cried out to God, and I said, ‘God, you know I’ve tried to run my life for my whole life and made a mess of it. It’s yours. That’s when God took over. And praise God that He did.”
In June 2004, Darrin’s faith was tested when he was deployed to Iraq. He and two friends were on their way to the post exchange near the city of Balad. They were just steps away from the entrance when the building exploded.
“Insurgents fired rockets at the PX and landed just feet away from us,” Darrin said. “I fell, crawled, whatever into the PX amid broken glass and black smoke. There was blood pouring from me. I was riddled with shrapnel all down my left side. The soldiers that were there shopping at the PX were on me very quickly.”
Dozens of soldiers were wounded or killed. Darrin’s friend Leo survived. But his friend Paul, who had been standing beside him, was among the casualties. As Darrin was being treated for his shrapnel wounds he struggled to make sense of what happened.
“I got angry with God, laying there in that bed, and how things were working out - that this wasn’t any good; no good could come of this. As I lay there, I was trying to look at the wounds and I noticed a rag, a bloody rag,” Darrin said. “I picked it up and through the blood I saw the words, ‘A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand but it shall not come near to you.’ And my heart jumped up in my throat.”
Those words from Psalms 91 were printed on the bandana that had been used as a tourniquet on Darrin’s leg.
“When I saw those words through the blood on that bandana it was as if God Himself sat down on that bed beside me and said, ‘Darrin, I do know the plans I have for you; and I knew the plans I had for Paul and I had mercy on him. I brought him home. And all things do work together for good.’ Paul was a wonderful Christian and he was a wonderful father, a wonderful husband and a great friend. So I have no doubt that he’ll be in heaven waiting for us. So that brings me great peace,” Darrin said. “But it also reaffirmed, I think, cemented my faith in knowing who God is, how big God is and how He can bring great things out of seemingly horrible circumstances.”
Darrin was flown to Germany for surgery.
“They told me it was a miracle that I was alive,” he said. “The piece of shrapnel that went in my neck had pierced the sheath of skin and wrapped around the carotid artery and he said it should have severed the artery where it was. He said, ‘There’s no explanation for it; it’s a miracle.’ And I said, ‘I know how it happened.’”
Darrin was asked why he thinks it was him who survived.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I won’t lie. I’ve struggled with it because I’ve lost a lot of friends, not just Paul; and all of them have families. I don’t have anybody and oftentimes I wonder, “God, why?” Because I would gladly change places with them. You know, I don't know; but I do trust God. I believe He has a great plan.”
Darrin has recovered from his injuries, even though he still has pain now and then. Although he retired from the army, he still considers himself a soldier.
“Before, I fought for the freedoms of this country. And now I fight for individual freedoms - to bring everyone the freedom and the peace that can only come through knowing the Lord.”Can God change your life?
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