Paralyzed vet explains faith, possibilities to congregation

By: Mike McCarthy Email
By: Mike McCarthy Email

KNOX COUNTY (WVLT) - More than four decades ago, a single bullet nearly killed an East Tennessee marine. It ended up paralyzing Randy Kington on a battle field in Vietnam, and having an impact on thousands of lives across the country.

"His bullet tore into my neck with so much violence that it picked me up off the ground," said Kington.

He still remembers the day he claims defines his whole life. It was March 21st, 1966 when as a 19 year old fighting in Vietnam, a bullet completely paralyzed him from the neck down.

"My first thought was that I was going to die," Kington said, "but then came the scariest thought of my life. I wondered if maybe had died without asking God to forgive me."

So lying on a battlefield in Vietnam, the Morristown Marine began to pray to God to save his soul. Moments later he regained feeling in his arms, and now retired General Gary Brown reached down and pulled him to safety. Since then, Kington has said he owes his life to the general.

"I get embarrassed sometimes when he tells the story,” said Gen. Brown. “I don't think I did that much."

It was another 30 years after that life changing day in battle before the two men would cross paths again.

"Something kept telling me, ‘you've got to get in touch with Randy,’" Gen. Brown said.

Then it finally happened, they met up and exchanged a hug that Kington believes helped heal his spirit.

"He squeezed me even tighter and said four words to me that changed my life,” the Marine remembered. “He said, ‘Randy I love you.’ Those words lifted that burden that I'd been carrying so long."”

The words also gave him the strength to print and share his testimony.

Today, even though he is still paralyzed from the chest down, he now talks to church congregation across the country.

On Sunday, he spoke before two services at First Baptist Concord in Farragut.

"I think it will inspire me to think of things I can do, and to go out and make a difference," said Grant Mason, who was in the congregation.

"It’s certainly a challenge for me to find ways to use everything that I have and everything God's given me,” said Eddie Hyde, another member of First Baptist Concord.

Kington believes like his faith, anyone can make a difference in someone’s life.

"It begins with thinking of others before you think of yourself,” he said.

Kington ended up receiving several military honors including the Purple Heart.

After leaving the Marine Corps, he had a successful career as a certified public accountant.


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