Scott Smiley: A Soldier's Sacrifice
By Julie Blim with Chuck Holton
The 700 Club
“There’s no training here in America that will prepare you for live bullets flying by your head, seeing your buddies wounded. On April 6th of 2005, we received intelligence in the morning that there was car bombs and men willing to blow themselves up. (I) yelled at him to get out of his car, and he just raised his hands up to me and looked at me like nothing’s wrong....that’s when I shot two rounds in front of his vehicle, and then my world went black.”
Shrapnel sliced through Lt. Scotty Smiley’s left eye. Metallic bits penetrated his skull and shredded his right optic nerve. In an instant, his life turned a corner that he never would have chosen.
Prior to that terrifying moment, Scotty’s story read like a dream: raised in a loving Christian home, a West Point grad, an Army Ranger with a bright career ahead. He was also newly married to his high school sweetheart, Tiffany …
“Scotty and I met in junior high. I had a crush on him and liked him. He asked me out on a date and then we dated through our senior year, and then dated through West Point ... And I was like okay, Scotty, you’re the one for me. There’s no one else out here like you.”
Scotty and Tiffany married on December 20th, 2003.
“In October of 2004, I was deployed to Mosul, Iraq.”
“What was it like when you got to Iraq?”
“Whether it was giving the people of Iraq electricity, ensuring the gasoline was being provided, each and every day brought something new. And I really saw not only myself but my men tested through fire. It was difficult to see my soldiers get injured. Several of my soldiers were shot, several of my soldiers were injured by explosives.”
Then it happened to Scotty.
“I got a phone call around 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning and he said, ‘You know, Tiffany, Scotty’s been hurt. He’s been hurt really bad.’ Then I got a phone call from the doctor in Balad, and he said, ‘We removed his eye, and I’m really sorry ma’am we left his other eye in, but we’re probably going to have to remove it.’ And that was the most crushing piece of news I could have received.”
Doctors operated on Scotty and sent him home to the US. Learning to live as a blind man was more painful than he or Tiffany imagined.
“It was a hard time. I was definitely in the bottom of my life. I was low, as low as low can be. I didn’t want to believe. I said that I didn’t know how to pray, I didn’t know if God was even alive, or even in my life.”
“And his friend asked him, you know, Scotty, will you pray, and he said ‘No, I don’t even know who God is anymore.’ And that crushed me….and that night I remember going back to my room and praying, not for Scotty’s eyesight, which I had been praying for, but I went back and prayed for his heart.”
“My mind was still in Iraq...and to realize that I now was not with them, that I felt I wasn’t doing my job. That I had left them, that I was unsuccessful. I was afraid that my wife, you know, who married me and said till death do you part, was just going to have to take care of me. I was now just a burden in her life, a burden in my family and friends’ life, and that was not something I ever wanted to be.”
“There were definitely days where it was just me and the Lord ...and this was the first time that I was walking by myself, Scotty wasn’t walking with me. I’d wake up in the morning and say, I just need you to get me through today, just help me get through today, give me the grace to be a good wife to Scotty.”
“What turned the depression around?”
“It was the prayer that my wife continually was giving for me. It was her reading the Bible to me. It was my brother quoting scriptures. My brother taking care of me ...”
“Five years after his injury, Scotty’s life has in some ways come full circle. He’s now back here at West Point, not as a cadet, but as a commander.”
Scotty’s job now is helping other wounded soldiers recover and get their lives back…
“I am the company commander of the West Point Warrior Transition Unit. I was injured, I went through depression, I went through the mental, physical, and spiritual recovery process and I think i’ve been given this wonderful opportunity because I understand what they are going through.”
Now CaptainScotty Smiley has turned his story into a book, sharing how he’s learned to trust the Lord. Oh, and in his spare time - he’s managed to earn an MBA, climb Mt. Rainier, skydive, and surf too.
“Standing on that board was an exhilarating feeling. To do something on my own, of my own strength, gave me the ability to know that God still is with me and that He can still allow me to do things that I never thought that I would be able to do.”
The Smileys are now the proud parents of two little boys…
“I have to help out and whether it means cleaning a dirty diaper, giving my sons food, giving them baths, putting them to bed, playing with them at the park, God still has a plan for me and that being a father is one of those awesome responsibilities that he’s blessed me with.”
He even plans to use his prosthetic eyes for a little fun ….
“When my boys’ friends come over, I can just place ‘em on the counter and say “I’m watchin’ you – even when I’m outta the room.”
How has your love for your wife has deepened?
“Tiffany is the most amazing person that I could ever imagine God blessing my life with. Her attitude, her personality, her perseverance, her strength, her determination to not only help me, help our relationship has just been an amazing blessing in our lives. I don’t know if I can explain how much I love her and how much she means to me.”
“At first it bothered me more than it does now. We went through our struggles and started to change, we started to walk back on our path with the Lord together, He kind of just covered and healed all of that to where our relationship is stronger now probably than it would have been with his sight, which is crazy to say. But I still dress up, I still wear make up and I tell him that. I’m like you better comb your hair because my hair looks good.”
“The words that I read in the Bible prior to all of this became real. It was like oh, this is the peace that surpasses all understanding, you know, this is the hope that carries you through. So it all came to life for me. There’s still times where we’re like ‘Yeah, we wish Scotty could see.’ But what God has taught us through His word .. And going through this trial and this valley with the Lord, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
“A lot of people look at the events in my life as a huge tragedy, and I don’t, necessarily. I think God has given me the ability to understand Him more and to understand His purpose through my blindness. The first person that I’m going to see is going to be Jesus Christ reaching down to me and I just hope that He says, good job, good and faithful servant.”
“And the second person you’ll see?”
“Oh, my beautiful wife!”
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