God’s Providence In My Life – With Army Captain John Arroyo – A survivor of the 2014 Fort Hood shooting, Captain John Arroyo joins us today to share God’s Providence in his life and his personal story.
Air Date: 06/07/2021
Guest: Captain John Arroyo
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome the intersection of faith in the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. Thanks for joining us on this very special Memorial Day. And it’s a great opportunity for us to share one of our veteran interviews with you. My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. And I’m here with David Barton, America’s premier historian, our founder here at WallBuilders and Tim Barton, he’s a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. We love doing these veteran interviews, but we do them throughout the year. This is just kind of a special occasion.
Yeah, these are really significant days and it’s really important that we remember this. It’s always something that in the Bible, it’s recall the former days, remember the former times, recall what the former generation has done, tell your children the stories of what’s been there. There is no nation that can survive without something to defend it from outside attackers, inside attackers, domestic foreign, whatever it is. And that’s why we kind of do these stories, is to always remember and appreciate the blessings we have, the liberties we have, but also the high price that was paid for us to enjoy what we have and not take it for granted.
And guys, we’ve had the opportunity to interview a lot of really special veterans to hear a lot of their stories. We have some very, very good close friends who are military veterans, guys that we do a lot of work with. And one of the cool things about many of these veterans is they have taken some of their incredibly difficult life experiences and they’ve started ministries and organizations to help those in need.
And there’s guys like Chad Robichaux with Mighty Oaks Warriors. And Brian Birdwell, he’s now a state senator in Texas. He was one of the guys at the Pentagon when the September 11th terrorist attacks happened. And he was a closest survivor who just covered in jet fuel and his testimony is crazy and awesome.
But one of the guys who has an incredible ministry is Dave Roever. And he was a veteran in Vietnam. And his testimony, again, is astounding. And all of these guys, it’s worth looking at their testimony. But Dave Roever should have lost his life, tried to commit suicide along the way in his path to recovery, because he was so broken by how broken his body was. He was convinced his wife was going to leave them because at that point, I mean really, there hadn’t been people who had gone through more horrific scenario with losing their own flesh, where the flesh was literally burned off his body by a phosphorus grenade, and just his testimony, his wife’s faithfulness to family around him just amazing testimony. Well, he took that testimony for himself, and he started working with other veterans.
The guy we actually get to interview today was someone who got connected to Dave Roever and had his life totally transformed by the power of God. And now the person we get to interview John Arroyo is someone who gets to share his testimony of his near death experience where he should have died and yet God preserved him and really just an amazing story and way that God is using him now. But John Arroyo was in the middle of a shooting where there was a great loss of life, and many people suffered dramatically and tragically because of this. And he’s going to come on and share part of his story with us.
Yeah, Tim in it. And this one actually happened in our home state of Texas at Fort Hood. This has been seven years ago. So some of our listeners may not remember it, or may not have even been familiar with it when it happened. But this was a big deal seven years ago, it took place right here at Fort Hood. And he was right in the middle of it.
Yeah, there was a military member at Fort Hood who had some Muslim allegiance and he was very dissatisfied with the military. He snuck a weapon onto base, and he started killing some of his own military members there on the base. And John Arroyo was one of the guys who was targeted, who was shot, and should have died, but for God, and is part of this amazing testimony that we get to hear in just a minute.
All right, folks, stay with us. We’ll be right back with John Arroyo here on WallBuilders Live.
WORLD WAR II VETERANS
Hey, friends, if you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Once in a while we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices, have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.
One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live from folks that were in the Band of Brothers to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived being Indianapolis, there’s so many other great stories you’ve heard on WallBuilders Live. You have friends and family that also serve.
If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please email us at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live.
Welcome back WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Captain John Arroyo is with us, survivor of the Fort Hood shooting all the way back in 2013. And an amazing story of how God saved him and the witness that he’s become, now working with our good friend Dave Roever in Dave Roever Ministries. I encourage you to check out their website today. We’ll have links to de wallbuilderslive.com. Captain, thanks so much for your time today, sir.
Oh, sir, thank you for having me.
Let’s start by giving out the Roever website and just encourage people that have friends that are veterans that have been injured or that are dealing with things coming home to go to that website, and also all of our listeners to go to their website and donate today.
Well, you have a couple options. You can go to Daveroever.org, which is more of our ministry side of the house. And then we also have Roever Foundation, where those opportunities where people can go and look and give, and that’s more suited for your nonprofit. They really have resiliency coach in front of the military. So that site right there allows them to go and see what we’re doing with school, see what we’re doing with the military and our education, so they can go there and donate or they can go to the church site, which is Daveroever.org
Excellent. Excellent. Alright, we’re going to have those links today at wallbuilderslive.com. As of 2014, you are stationed at Fort Hood. You’ve already been in the military for how long?
At that point, I was in the military for 16 years, approximately.
16 years. Actually, let’s go back before that. Tell us a little bit about your history in the military first.
You know, I joined the military in 1998, not like Dave Roever, I wasn’t patriotic. I was coming off the streets of California, a young punk gang member, drug addict, and I needed a way out of life. And for me, it was go to war or go to jail. That’s a joke. But I needed discipline. My dad died when I was five years old. But the influences outside the home were greater than the influences inside the home.
My grandma planted the seed of prayer, and my sister watered it. She would pour water on me because I slept all day. And so she said, you need to get out of here, you’ll be a loser the rest of your life. She said, why don’t we consider the military? I said it’s not for me. Long story short, I ended up going and meeting with an army recruiter in 1998. I joined the army.
My first assignment was the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I started out as an army truck driver, I just need to discipline in a skill and I was going to go home and drive truck. And then I saw these green berets and Army Rangers and I was like, those dudes are cool. And guess what I want to be, I want to be cool. I did what I do best. I ran my mouth. I told all my friends in truck driver land that I was going to be an Army Green Beret.
And one guy walked up to me one day and said, John, either go to selection to attempt to be a Green Beret or shut your mouth. And so man, brother, I had to put up or shut up. And I started September 10th 2001. September 11th 2001, we all know what that day was. Well, they pulled us in the classroom, they told us, we are now a nation at war. We didn’t believe them at first. We said no, this is part of your scenario. And they said, no, we’re now a nation at war. And if you want to be in the right place at the right time, you’re here, because what’s going to happen in the future will be done by Green Berets.
Wow. Oh, my goodness. Well, I don’t want to fast forward yet. But boy, I mean, that means God puts you in the right place at the right time for such a time as this on multiple occasions then. So you start your training on September, that would feel like it was part of the training hey, where second day of training, you think, yeah, they’re just running us through the test. How long did you stay in training before they finally shipped you out?
That was our selection. So I got to the end. And one thing I want to let your listeners know is the Lord allowed me to experience failure, because I think he knew that he was going to use it one day. Because if I would have succeeded at everything, every time the first time, my head would be so big I wouldn’t even be able to fit out the room. So I completed that training course. I got all the way that day 24, which is the final day, and at the end, they said, John, thank you for stopping by. But you didn’t pass go on this attempt, you will have to come back.
Again, long story short, I ended up going back a year later, I was selected. I did three combat tours with third Special Forces Group as a Green Beret, two Afghanistan, one Iraq, I ended up on a special project team where I actually did security here in the United States. That’s kind of scary to tell people, but we are active in the United States securing our own homeland. And then that forwarded me into a career transitioning from enlisted to officer in 2013, and then in 2014, I showed up on Fort Hood, Texas.
Wow. Okay, so leading up to Fort Hood, had you been injured before the fourth incident?
No, sir. Wow No, sir. Other than your pride, you know.
No, it’s just interesting. I mean, it’s wild that for your story to do all that combat overseas and then for it to happen here on a base right here at home, so let’s go to that base, go to that day. This was April 2nd 2014. Had you been at Fort Hood very long before this happened?
Five months. So I finished the officer training school for medical in San Antonio late September and I took the lead and showed up at Fort Hood about mid late October until I was starting work 1st November 2013. So I would go about five to seven months before I was shot.
Alright, so you get there that day on April 2nd, when you arrive on base, nothing’s happened yet, right? In fact, I think you pulled in about same time the shooter did?
Yes, sir. I started class that day. And the instructor told us he said, hey, I want you to go get some information from your organization, so we’re going to release you guys early from class today so that when we finish our final project in this course that you’ll be working on your organization’s paperwork, and you’ll be way ahead of the game when you get back to work.
So it was about four o’clock in the afternoon, I’m running over to my headquarters, wanting to grab this information. And I’m looking for parking, couldn’t really find any, so I had to park closer to our main headquarters. And I get out of my car, and as I shut the door, instantly hear shots fired. And the little spaces senses, you know, we say the Holy Spirit, it could just something wasn’t right and I knew it. But I couldn’t put my finger on it because I wasn’t near any ranges where you hear the big booms and things like that. But we train on base sometimes for funeral details, right? There’s constantly retirees that pass away and so we’re always having to practice and so you may have blanks go up from time to time.
But this is a very distinct sound. And being a former Green Beret, I know what that sound sounds like, I know what that shot fire sound like. I’m on base, I went through security, so I’m behind security so I feel safe. I kind of let that that angst kind of go like, I shut my door and I started walking. And I see a vehicle pull up in front of me and I see this vehicle and I look at the individual and I acknowledge him. But something again came back to me and I kind of turned my head where I heard that shot fired because that vehicle didn’t appear to be a threat to me. I was in a parking lot. Who feels are threatened in a parking lot with car driving by?
So I turned my head to the right where I can actually look in the direction where I heard the shots fired, and the next shot I heard ripped through my throat. What I was actually hearing when I heard shots fired was that driver in that vehicle, that was specialist Ivan Lopez, he had just left his organization where he had shot several people. He got in his car, and he was driving down the road. And his organization and my organization was just divided by a single road. So as he’s driving down the road, everybody he sees, he’s to be shooting at them and that’s what I hear. But I can’t see him shooting at people because there’s a building in front of me.
So when he pulls in my parking lot, he stops, I didn’t even recognize that he stopped. And when he stopped, the next show I heard was a 45 caliber that severed my juggler bank, went through my voice box, and it continued into my right shoulder and then he drove off.
Whoa. Oh, man. Okay, I mean, at that point, did you blacked out? What happened?
Like I felt like a baseball bat hit my chest like an overpressure. I didn’t feel any pain. Like instinctly, I didn’t blackout or anything, but I just kind of like, I was shocked, the wind was just kind of sucked out of me. And then I just thought to myself, did I just get a shot? And then my fingers just came to when I started kind of like touching myself to see if there was anything and then just bright red blood would just started coming out of my neck.
I just turn and I start walking away from him and I start walking back towards my car. Because if I think back to that day now, I was just trying to get away, I was just trying to get safe, get to a safe place and I walked back to my car, and I just fall on the floor like face flat, right next to the door of my car. And I’m laying there, at that moment, I was only thinking about what mattered most, and it was my wife, and my children. And I began to think, who’s going to take care of my wife, and who will take care of my children? And right at that moment, I heard an audible voice speak to me and the voice said, John, get up.
And I just laid there, because at the same time I’m thinking is this where it ends, is this where I’m about to die? And I heard the voice one more time, John, get up, or your wife will die. Rick, Jesus told me, now I know today that that voice was actually God speaking to me and said, John, get up or your wife will die. Here’s why, Rick.
Because just prior in September when I finished that officer school, her mother died of an aneurysm unexpectedly, nine days later, her father died of cancer. Two years before her parents, her brother dies in a hunting accident. So my wife loses her brother in 2011, 2013 in September, her mom and dad nine days apart. Also, we were in Fort Bragg, North Carolina is Green Beret, right, 82nd airborne divisions on Fort Bragg North Carolina. Our show is third Special Forces Group. So my whole career wasn’t like most military careers where they travel every three years. I had been on the same base for approximately 15 years.
And now after my wife lost her mommy, her daddy, her brother, we were also uprooted from a place that we called home and all of our friends, and we were moved to Fort Hood. And now here I am, just months later, and I’m dying on the ground, and Jesus said, if you don’t get up, the bullet that went through your throat will kill you and your wife.
Wow. Wow. So did you get up?
I did. And here’s what your listeners need to hear. God didn’t pick me up. He told me to get up. He gave me the power. He gave me the strength. He knew what I had in me. He knew what he placed in me. But it was up to me. He gave me the option. He said, John, get up, but he didn’t pick me up. So I just started moving. I just started moving. And I think that was like the Green Beret in me, Rick, my heart wouldn’t let me quit and I had to at least try. And so I started moving. And I didn’t know if I had 5 more steps in me, 10 more steps in me but I just kept moving.
And I went to grab my throat to stop the bleeding to put pressure with my right arm, so my arm getting moved because the bullet had went through my nerves and my right arm. So my arm on the right was just dangling. And so I grabbed my throat with my left hand and to put pressure, and I’m walking. It’s four o’clock in the afternoon on a base that has approximately like 30,000 soldiers. And there’s not much movement except for one soldier walking towards me from a distance. And I see him and I’m like help me. But I can’t speak because a 45 just went into my throat and I’m like help me and I’m trying to get as close as I can to this guy. But as the guy start getting closer, his demeanor, there’s something wrong.
And I’m looking at him, and he’s looking around very frantically. And I stopped, because what I saw next was shocking. It was the man that just shot me standing in front of me, Rick.
Wait, you were trying to call out to the guy that had actually shot you?
I was trying to call out to the guy that actually shot me and I couldn’t speak. But I was trying to get close enough for him to realize that I was bleeding and he gets 10 feet in front of me. And I stopped because I can’t move anymore, because I realize I’m standing in front of the guy that just shot me. So what happened is, he shot me from his car, he drove off, parked his car, got out of his car, and then just started looking for more people while he walked back into my direction. So we need 10 feet face to face. I don’t know what caused him to stop. But Rick, he just stopped and I stopped. And he looks towards me. He looks to the left. He looks to the right. He’s looking all around frantically. And he didn’t see me. It was like if I wasn’t even there to him, Rick. He stopped, turned around, looked around, and then just walk directly into the building that was right in front of both of us. He walks right into that building and he shoots three more people. And it was like Jesus blinded him.
Wow. Wow. And at that point, did anybody else come to your aid? I mean, how did you get out of there?
Well, he walked away from me. I didn’t stick around waiting for him to come out and help me. So I continued on to the path that I was originally there for. I went to my headquarters. I was trying to get to my headquarters and some soldiers saw me and they yelled out to me. They yelled soldier, are you okay? They said when I was walking, Rick, it looked like I had a red scarf flapping in the window. It was the blood that was squirting out of my neck.
So they run to me, and I turned to them in. I don’t know how loud this was. But I said it with enough voice for them to hear me, and I said I’ve been shot. There’s a shooter. Like I turned and yell to the soldiers and said I’ve been shot, there’s a shooter, but I couldn’t yell to the guy who was standing in front of me. So they run to me, they tell me to get down. One of the guys runs and grabbed his truck. He actually runs back in the direction of where the shooter is, grabbed his truck. They know that there’s no time for 911. So they put me in the back of a truck and they start getting me to Darnall Army Hospital there on Fort Hood.
And one of the guys tells me says hey, sir, you know, I was in Lieutenant at the time, he says, sir, don’t talk, just squeeze my hand. But he was telling me later, he said every time I told you to squeeze my hand, he said your squeeze was just getting less and less and less. So then they get me through the door, that door that Darnall Army Hospital. I later get a message from a guy that told me he says, hey, I remember you when you came to the door, he said I can’t believe you’re alive. He said I did something that’s in no medical book. He said I looked you in the face, you had complete horror over your face, even you were so scared. He said but I looked at you and said you’re going to be okay now. And I stuck my fingers in your neck to stop the bleeding.
And he says this piece just came over you and he said you are actually guppy breathing already. And I said what is guppy breathing? He said that’s actually the breathing you have right before you expire. So one of the doctors had enough sense to put a tube down my throat, because they know that if they don’t get a tube down my throat, my neck is going to swell and I won’t be able to breathe. So one of the doctors put the tube down my throat, the nurses are now running with me to the elevator to get me in the OR so they can start surgery.
There had been a page that went out across the hospital for all doctors to rush to the ER, because there was a mass casualty situation. Again, there was 19 that were shots, so we were starting to come in, we’re starting to trickle in. And I think I was like the first or second one at the hospital. So the nurses are running with me to the OR. They get to the elevator, they hit the door for the elevator to open. And when they opens, two doctors come running out right in front. And guess who it is Rick? It is the ear, nose, and throat surgeon?
Wow. God was just, I mean such a time is this every time for you?
Yeah. And so the doctors that they’re like, hey, we got a gunshot wound at the neck. Well, who do I have? I have the ear, nose, and throat surgeon. So they gear up, they put me in the elevator and the doctors Just come with me. They don’t continue on the ER, they continue with me. And one of the doctors, I’m still friends with him now, he said, John, I could literally put my finger from your throat all the way to your back. That’s how big of a cavity you had. And he said there was a point in time during the surgery, you ever watch those movies, and all of a sudden, like everything just stopped, it’s just kind of like that pause moment, they’re looking around, you know. And he said that we had that moment, he said any second this guy’s probably, we’re going to lose them.
They picked me up, I’m still living. They get into a level one trauma center. They bring my wife to the hospital. She has to identify me by tattoos that I had from my past. She looks at me and she said my head was so big, it was bigger than a basketball, my tongue wouldn’t even fit back in my mouth. Everybody that saw me, it was like, this guy’s not going to make it through the night, we need to get his family here. One of the things that I’ve realized and spending time with God, is that the voice that was trying to be taken out now working with Dave Roever, is what God uses today.
Now your whole recovery story, everything is in the book “Attacked at Home!” I encourage people to get that. There’s a website as well, attackedathome.com specifically for the book. Tell me before I let you go because we are almost out of time, tell me about that voice and what you’re doing now for the Lord but through Dave’s ministry.
What I’m doing one is being mentored by Dave Roever, who was mentored by Dr. Billy Graham, right? So I’m standing on the shoulders of the man that was standing on the shoulders of a giant, you know. Like Dave, we use our scars to bring hope and healing to others. We do that in churches. We do it through resiliency training with the military and/or high school. So now, if I go to a high school, I start with the kids and I’ll let them know. Have you ever been wounded by someone you trusted? Though that’s on two fronts, Rick.
One, it was a family member and they were just best friends that introduced me to drug. It was someone that I thought loved me. But you know, I’m not blaming him, we were equally bad influences. But also so you take that on a different perspective, and you think about the military, I was wounded by someone I would have given my life for. And so a lot of our children, a lot of teenage kids, they’ve been wounded by people they’ve trusted.
So these stories, we use our stories, we use our scars to go in and share hope and healing. I’m not sitting in the fetal position with pills in a corner right now, in an institution. I’m healed and delivered and living a life of joy and peace and I go and share that. Whatever you’ve been through, that God will bring you through it, God will bring you through. And so Jesus told me, get up.
So my message through Dave Roever ministries through what we do is go into ministries or schools or military and encourage them to get up. And what am I doing, Rick? I’m actually giving them word directly from God, get up because he said, freely you have received, freely give. And like Dave Roever, he uses his scars to help others. And so that’s what I do now.
Amen. Oh, it’s powerful, bro. Powerful. I don’t even know how to say thank you Captain, I mean for all the service over the years. But for the services coming even in the coming years as you reach people in a way that I mean, so few people can. I mean, your story is so rare that God’s given you a special platform and for us to get to share with our listeners today. I just can’t thank you enough, man. And I wish you the best. And for people that want to book you in to speak and to share that story, best website to do that?
They can do in one or two places. They can go to attackedathome.com or they can go to Daveroever.org and I’m in there, they go to a speaker. So they can go to Daveroever.org or attackedathome.com
Awesome. Awesome. Well, brother, we appreciate you, man. God bless you. And may he continue to just amplify your voice and just an incredible story. “Attacked at Home!” is the book and also the website where you can go to book John. Captain, we appreciate you, brother. Thanks for your time today.
Alright, Rick, thank you so much.
That was Captain John Arroyo, we’re Back with David and Tim Barton. What a powerful, powerful testimony. There’s also some great videos of John’s testimony. We’ll have links to those on our website today at wallbuilderslive.com. But guys, great to see him now ministering to others after this amazing journey God’s taking him through.
It’s hard for any civilian to imagine what is like. I mean, first what John went through the first 15 years, just Green Beret, a captain in the Green Beret, are you kidding me, that is so special. But what he did overseas, we can only imagine what that was. But to come back and then be faced with that level, and then to have God specifically speak to him, and said, hey, if you don’t get up and move, your wife’s going to lose her life. I mean, all the interventions, it is remarkable. But it is a reminder again of how much these guys go through in ways that we don’t imagine. Most of them don’t like to tell their stories.
So to get John to tell his story, this is really special. But it’s a good reminder for us to remember the guys that were with John who died, but also remembering guys like John who have gone through so much, and who have had so much emotional stress and strain, great to pray for him.
More of these veteran interviews are on our website at wallbuilderslive.com. I really encourage you to share these with your friends and family. Especially if you’re not a military family, right, like in my family, I didn’t serve, my kids haven’t served. And so I think it’s even more important for us to hear these interviews and to learn of those who are sacrificing for us. But every one of us as Americans, this is where you render honor unto whom honor is due and you can be a part of that by getting those programs there at wallbuilderslive.com and sharing them with others. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.