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Classic Interview | Hope Unseen: An Interview with Captain Scotty Smiley

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
July 30, 2022 3:00 am

Classic Interview | Hope Unseen: An Interview with Captain Scotty Smiley

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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July 30, 2022 3:00 am

In this episode, we revisit a classic Veteran’s Day interview between Pastor Greg Laurie and Captain Scotty Smiley. They discuss Scotty’s service as an Army Ranger and his experience as the Army’s first active-duty, blind officer.

On April 6, 2005, Scotty lost his eyesight when a suicide car bomber blew himself up thirty meters in front of Scotty’s IAV Stryker vehicle. Shrapnel blew through Scotty’s eyes, leaving him blinded and temporarily paralyzed. He woke up in Walter Reed Army Medical Center a week later. Through questioning his faith, Scotty made a decision to forgive and rebuild his life and continue to serve in the Army, becoming the first blind active-duty officer in military history.

Listen in for an amazing testimony.

Learn more about his story at

It’s important that we take the time to remember and honor our military veterans. It’s because of their selfless service and sacrifice that we live in a free country today.


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Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast and my objective is to deliver hopefully compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website So thanks for joining me for this podcast.

Let's welcome Captain Scotty Smiley to harvest. Thank you. Scotty it is great to have you here and thank you for coming. Especially on Veterans Day.

And thank you for your service to our country and the sacrifices that you have made. We met years ago. You were a cadet at West Point. And I was speaking there. And I think we were presenting the cadets with Bibles. What year was that?

I think it was 2002. Right. And you were there with your friend Edward Graham who is also an Army Ranger. Oh yeah. And so that is when we first met.

And I saw Edward not long ago. And I told you this in the back room. I said, man he looked like GI Joe.

And what did you say? He still sounds like GI Joe too. He thinks he is GI Joe.

He is active with the military today. Now did you always grow up, you know a lot of young boys grow up playing Army wanting to be a soldier. Was that how you were raised? Did you always want to be in the military since you were a little boy?

I always loved playing guns and playing Army. But for me choosing to attend the United States Military Academy was the fact that it was free and my parents could afford an education. Yeah. So you were getting your education there. And while you were a cadet 9-11 happened. How did that affect you?

Correct. And when my junior year in 2001, September 11th happened. Just 40 miles south of us at West Point we were attacked. And it really resolved my dedication to fight for the freedoms in which we have.

And it really made me want to be in the Army and continue my not only education in the military but my service to our country. And you were sent to Iraq. Northern Iraq. Whereabouts in Iraq did you go?

We received orders back at Fort Lewis where I was from to deploy to Mazul, Iraq. And I didn't know where Mazul was. So looking it up on the internet I found out that it was Nineveh. Nineveh and the Bible. Exactly.

And so living near the Puget Sound I definitely did not want to tell God no I'm not going to Nineveh. Yeah. That didn't work out so well for Jonah did it? No it didn't. I think you know we got to learn from people's past.

Yes. So when you were there did you find that the people of Iraq were welcoming our military presence? I think many of them did appreciate the freedoms that we gave them taking out Saddam Hussein. While at the same time their expectations that the United States would bring freedom and money and wealth.

You know they were a bit disillusioned. And many of them still supported us and loved the freedoms that we gave them. But at the same time the insurgents continually tried to thwart us.

Continually fought the system and continued to bring down their country. One day in April you were out on patrol in a striker vehicle. What is a striker vehicle? A striker vehicle is an eight-wheeled vehicle with 50 caliber machine gun. I mean it's awesome.

It's just amazing vehicle that carries soldiers. And as we found a suspicious vehicle which you know you can't just shoot someone because they look scary. I made a decision to to court on him off. You know protect other people. I parked my vehicle just to his south about 30 yards away and yelled at him to get out of his vehicle. And you know it was just a single man head cleanly shaven face cleanly shaven.

Gray shirt down to his wrists. Just innocent good-looking guy and yelled at him to get out of his vehicle. And he looked over his left shoulder shook his head no. I responded with the same yelling at him. He did the same thing then let his foot off the brake. And that's when and that's when I raised my M4 rifle to my shoulder and shot two rounds in front of his vehicle.

And then my world went black. See he was a suicide bomber. He was. He was a suicide bomber disintegrating the vehicle and himself blinding me the rest of my life. By you going ahead of the others you put yourself on the way of danger.

Surely you had your suspicions he may be a suicide bomber. Correct. And you know it's that's the that's the job that everyone in the military army navy air force coast guard do every single day is they're putting themselves on the line for the protections of our country. And though their lives may be at risk they know that for the freedoms in which we live it's worth it. And you saved other lives that day I have no doubt.

I hope so. Wow that's fantastic. Thank you for that. And you woke up at Walter Reed hospital partially paralyzed and totally blind. How did you cope with that Scotty. It was tough. You know being raised as a Christian and a Christian family I felt I had done everything that I was supposed to do. If there was quote unquote blocks to check I felt I checked them.

And you know it's not it is a shallow way to look at it. But I read my Bible I read my Bible in front of my men in my in the military. I prayed in front of them. I did all that I was thought that I thought to do. And now that God had allowed my eyesight to be taken and partially paralyzed it was so tragic that I forsook him and one of my good friends as you mentioned Edward Graham came into my room one morning and asked me to say a prayer and I responded with I don't know how to pray and I don't think I know God.

And just that plain statement really shook my wife my loving wife Tiffany my family to the core and they really got on their knees and began to pray that not from my eyesight but that the Holy Spirit would begin to move in me again. And you have two boys. It's it's Graham and what is your other and Grady and Grady and your wife's name Tiffany as you said and you have another child coming soon don't you like a month away or so. Congratulations on that too Scotty.

Thank you. So and Edward Graham if we didn't mention is the son of Franklin and Jane Graham and the grandson of Billy Graham and your friend. And so here was this crisis of faith and your wife is concerned and hot and you asked the question why. So how did you get through this. You know it's not just the support of my family and friends but it's God's unfailing love. The fact that you know he sent his son Jesus Christ on the search to die for us. And I knew that but we have to choose him and we have a choice each and every day to not choose him and to walk away. And me knowing that I had to first you know ask him to forgive me. And one of the you know important moments was I used to teach Sunday school at the military academy and I would say no to Toby Keith Gary Sinise three star four star generals who would want to see me like I didn't want to see them.

But when my wife came into my room one day and said Scotty Andrew wants to see you. I just broke down because I knew it was Andrew Harris who I had taught Sunday school to. And I realized that if God could still use me to positively influence a young child that he truly would have you know a way to use me in the future blind or not. And it was just a choice that I had to make was to ask God to forgive me. And then it was that slow process and regaining my wife's love regaining God's love in closeness whether it's through reading the Bible through prayer and supplication. But you know that that that road is still ongoing.

But it's awesome. Yeah you know I mentioned the story in the Bible of the Syrian general Neiman a military man like yourself who had leprosy and there was a maid a young woman working in this home that told him about the prophet Elisha. And so he ended up making the journey to Israel. And he said to make the journey to Israel.

And yeah. And he was healed and God used a young boy. How old was that boy. Was it Andrew? Andrew he was in fifth grade. So I taught him in second grade and then three years later. I mean talk about an amazing way that God can use what we've done in the past and how it can constantly and specifically influence us later on in the future.

So all these celebrities want to see you and important people and you don't want to see any of them and that little boy touches your heart. And you told me in an earlier interview that you started to ask what instead of why. Instead of why God which is really an unanswerable question.

It is. But talk about the what. You said what God.

What does that mean. Just in asking God why I honestly don't think it's a question that will ever be answered here on earth. But we know it will be answered when we're in heaven. But it's the what that we should focus on is what are you going to use me for. How are you going to use me God because that's where we as humans need to focus on what we can continue to do for God's greater good versus our own profit.

And so just focusing on the what and how is where we need to be. An amazing twist in your story Scotty is you wanted to pursue. Continue to pursue a career in the military and stay in uniform. You went through grueling physical therapy to get back into shape and then you went to Duke University you were you were graduated with an MBA correct.

Yes. And then you went on to take command of the warrior transition unit. Why did you want to stay in the military as the Army's first blind active duty officer. You know being the Army's first active duty Army officer blind active duty armature is not one something on my bucket list.

And I don't encourage other people to seek it either. But for me in serving my country I saw the purpose and I could see how God could continue to use me in the words that came in my mouth the way that I treated people. But being a fearless example of inspiration and motivation for other soldiers and the warrior transition unit is it is an organization that helps the recovery of wounded ill and injured soldiers just as an organization I had been a part of. And being able to be that company commander leading them in formations on runs and administratively counseling soldier was an awesome job. And just God give me that challenge but that opportunity allowed me to continue to serve my country in an amazing way.

Absolutely. You know the apostle Paul says that we can comfort with the comfort we've been comforted with. And when someone is faced that you face wounded in combat losing your vision but yet pressing on as a soldier what a powerful example you are. But not only to fellow soldiers but to all kinds of people facing adversity and hardship. And there are people watching right now listening right now that are facing severe adversity.

Maybe not as bad as what you faced Scotty but yet it's serious. And they may be having a crisis of faith. What would you say to them. What words of hope would you offer them. You know we we all go through struggles and trials physical mental emotional spiritual. But God has those and places those in our lives for a reason. And it's to grow our strength and to grow his his good Lord. You know just as Jesus Christ told Nicodemus in a dark alley. He sent his son Jesus Christ on the search to die for us that if we ask him into our hearts we can be with him forever. And it's focusing on that and knowing just as Paul says in Philippians that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

And so it's to have resolve. And if we have walked away from the faith just as I have to know that God can still bring you back. He loves us. He loves each and every one of us.

And it's to choose him. And because that that is what we're here for on earth to do. And let's thank Captain Smiley for coming. Thank you Scottie.

Hey everybody Greg Laurie here. Thanks for listening to our podcast. And to learn more about Harvest Ministries please subscribe and consider supporting this show. Just go to And by the way if you want to find out how to come into a personal relationship with God go to That's K-N-O-W-G-O-D. G-O-D-O-D-O-R-G.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-18 09:22:42 / 2023-03-18 09:27:58 / 5

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