In “Faith on the Frontlines,” Earhardt sat down with a combat veteran trio – Mark Nutsch, Jeff Struecker and Douglas Szczepanski – to capture their unique stories of war and to discuss the phenomenal role of faith both on the battlefield and at home.
“My faith in Christ is something that’s instrumental and foundational to who I am,” Szczepanski said. “It has been a part of me from a young age to now.”
He recounted standing face-to-face with a suicide car bomber during a tour in Iraq, a moment he depicts as one that culminated all he had ever known and taught.
“For me, that day was a culmination of all my youth and my foundation in him [Christ],” he said, before delving into a sequence on his personal history in the U.S. Army and the transition from peacetime to wartime following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, with each event in his life entrenched in the security of faith and prayer.
Szczepanski, who miraculously survived a car bomb explosion that transpired right in front of his face, suffered severe burns, broken bones, blindness in his left eye and shrapnel lodged in his brain which he says remains there to this day.
Struecker, an Operation Desert Storm veteran, enlisted in the Army and became a chaplain before retiring. He said faith became an essential part of his life before his military career began, an important shift after getting off on the wrong foot in his early teens.
“I had this strong passion for the country and a strong passion for Jesus at the same time,” he told Earhardt.
Struecker said the most profound moments of his faith occurred during his time in Somalia circumnavigating the infamous Black Hawk Down operation, when he faced a grim fate, expecting a rescue effort to turn into a suicide mission.
Nutsch, an infantry ranger and special forces officer, brings a recognizable story to those familiar with “12 Strong,” and recounted praying before battle with both Christian and Muslim allies in Afghanistan. He also revisited his role as a horseback soldier in a technological age, and said God placed him in the role as someone who grew up with horse-riding expertise that proved crucial to fighting the Taliban.
Nutsch also said God’s protection allowed his team members to survive and tell their stories to others just as he does.
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