Struecker was the guest speaker at this year’s program, and he told the crowd about his time as an Army Ranger and how his faith got him through some of the toughest battles, including the infamous rescue mission in Mogadishu.
“Rangers are a unique group of men,” he said. “They’ve sworn their life to live by a creed, and one of the things that the Ranger Creed says is that, ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.’”
In Mogadishu, Struecker led a convoy of vehicles through the streets on a rescue mission to save downed American soldiers.
What was supposed to be a 30 minute mission to capture two high-ranking officials of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid turned into a rescue operation lasting through the night.
The original mission started just as they had planned, but when Ranger Todd Blackburn came out of the Black Hawk helicopter, he missed the rope and fell to the streets. Struecker and the men in his three vehicles were sent to retrieve him and bring him back to camp. While driving through the streets, they were attacked and one of their men was killed.
After returning to base, Struecker said his platoon leader informed him a Black Hawk helicopter went down and he had to go back out to rescue the men.
He said in the moments leading up to the deadly mission, he prayed that God’s will would be done when the soldiers went back out into the warzone.
“I realized one of two things was going to happen to me next,” he said. “I realized either I go home to my family in Georgia or I go home to my Father in heaven, in either case I cannot lose no matter what happens to me now. That and that alone is what gave me the courage to get back in those Humvees and go back in those city streets.”
Struecker said he fought differently in that mission because of his faith, and the puzzled reactions of his fellow Rangers who did not share in that faith inspired him to be an Army chaplain.
This is the 18th year Perimeter School has had a ceremony honoring veterans, and Headmaster Bobby Scott said it is an important event they look forward to every year.
“It is so critical in this day in age that we get in the minds of the young generation that’s here what it means to fight for truth, to defend this country, to stand for the principles that you guys and ladies have stood for. You’re examples to us,” he said.