HIGH SCHOOL FRIENDS
“Words truly can’t express enough how great of a friend, teammate, and person Darren was. From when we were young, he was always there as a friend, as a brother, to support me no matter what. He was an extremely hard worker in school and sports. Always a positive influence, a smile on his face and good demeanor to everyone around him. He embodies what an all-around good student athlete is and should be."
Mike Szabo Classmate and Teammate, WKHS Class of 1993
“Darren was an amazing and caring individual who made a positive impact in the world and will be missed by so many. I was very lucky to have a friend like Darren growing up. Someone that I looked up to and aspired to be more like.“
Ron Tang Classmate and Teammate, WKHS Class of 1993
“Darren Baldwin was a great man and an even better friend. He was someone you could count on for anything — the epitome of responsible and dependable. Whether it was in the classroom or on the field, both of which where Daren excelled, he always had a smile on his face and added his positive spirit. He made a positive impact on those around him. He served his country with dignity and pride, and I am proud to have called him a friend.”
Jeff Todd Classmate and Teammate, WKHS Class of 1993
"Darren played the game of football the way he approached life. He was a WARRIOR! He played with a tenacity that not only drove his motor, but also motivated his teammates around him. He was relentless in his attack on the opponent, understood his role in our schemes, and never stopped until the job was done. Team first, me second. Darren didn’t play the game like the superstars of today — the real superstars of today play the game the way that Darren did. He will always hold a special place in our hearts in the memories of Kilbourne football."
Vince Trombetti Former WKHS Football Coach
WEST POINT FRIENDS
“Darren never had bad days. Being a cadet and lacrosse player at West Point provides plenty of opportunity for one to have a bad day. Not for Darren. While the environment he lived and played in was filled with adversity, stress and challenge, Darren was always happy. He never saw practice as a drag. He loved the grind. He liked the strength and conditioning. He liked the drills. And he loved to celebrate after a game. Not many people breezed through West Point, but Darren was one of the few that floated above its gravity; and he made life so much more interesting and uplifting for all those in his orbit."
Jake Wenz West Point Classmate and Lacrosse Teammate
“My friendship with Darren was a true blessing from my West Point experience. He accurately lived the values that West Point and our military stand for. Everyone in our class admired and respected him because he was honest, trustworthy, dependable, and always brought happiness with him. Each time I think about the academy, I am reminded of our friendship and how blessed I was to have known him.“
Dan Shaheen West Point Classmate
“I’m honored to have known Darren and gone through so many experiences with him. We met at West Point and instantly bonded through trying to learn how to be a cadet and a good student at the same time. He helped me with my academics, and I helped get him into trouble a few times. He was always the life of the party and an incredible athlete. Not only did he excel on the lacrosse field, but he also did on the obstacle course, military training, and academics. Darren epitomized the motto “work hard, play hard.” He will be missed but I can assure you Darren’s memory will always live on. Be thou at peace my good friend.”
Matt Lawton West Point Classmate
"Darren and I deployed with Special Forces 10th Group to various locations in 2004 but Darren would join me in Mosul that Christmas. As we struggled to reconstitute the Iraqi army, Mosul was in chaos. Darren‘s new mission was to combat advise a Ministry of Interior special police unit — The Wolf Brigade. They’d been crushing it in Baghdad, and my team received and handed them off to Darren, and they went on the offensive in Mosul. It was great to operate with another detachment and especially alongside a West Point classmate. Later as the Bn Asst. S3, he helped establish numerical valuation and rankings for our insurgent targets to prioritize scarce resources. His work and leadership influenced our FID missions for years. With your angel, Bianca, at your side, you fought a long and courageous fight — we are all better for having known you."
DOL. Russ Ames West Point Classmate, ODA 053, 2004-07
"Darren showed the world what true strength and courage look like while serving as a Team Leader in 10th Special Forces Group, and then showed us even more what these attributes look like as he continued to battle for 16 years living with a traumatic brain injury. Throughout it all, Darren remained strong, courageous, and maintained his sense of humor, dignity, and respect. As I, and many, who served alongside of Darren, we are reminded of how lucky that people are like him existed and how honored and humbled I am to have known such a man. There will never be another quite like Darren, but I know that I am a better man for having known him."
Jason Kostal West Point Classmate and retired U.S. Army Officer
“I went through Special Forces Qualification Course’s Robin Sage phase with Darren. Robin Sage is the grueling exercise for you to earn your Green Beret. Darren was one of three Captains on our ODA. He was one of those guys that was great at letting the team do what they needed to do and yet 'encouraging' when it was needed. He did all of this with a smile.
I had no idea this happened to him. I'd lost touch with him shortly after graduation and honestly haven't thought about him in a long while until today when I learned this once strikingly handsome, funny guy is close to the end. He gave up the best years of his life for his country. He will leave this earth a different man from when I knew him, and he'd do it all again. This is what selflessness looks like. This is what those people sacrifice, who know how amazing this country is. Shed a tear for him as I have. Remember him and his family in your prayers. Drink something in his honor. And sleep well knowing someone who didn't even know you, loved you enough to give up everything for you."
Sargent Major Mark (aka Cecil) Retired U.S. Army Special Forces
“The news of Darren’s passing left more than a tinge of sadness in my family home. Like so many others I looked up to Darren as the kind of officer and kind of man I wanted to be — bright, capable, caring and magnificently radiant with positivity. It was an honor to have known and serve alongside of Darren. I will miss him.”
Colonel Walt Cooper
“I met Darren as a young Special Forces Captain. We crossed paths on the same team for a few months. He had it all. He was fun, strong, smart, and had a beautiful wife. We called him “Captain Hollywood”, since he was such a “pretty boy”. He was a natural leader and a happy warrior. He and his team excelled. They pulled the Mosul mission, which was considered the toughest mission in the sector. They crushed the mission and spilt their own blood in the doing. He brought all of his men home. Back home, we all are attending the BBQs, weddings, and other celebrations. Darren was such a loving spirit. I still think of those as the good old days. In and out of Iraq, living life fierce. The Army moved Darren out to Fort Bragg for bigger and better things, but he never has or ever will leave my heart.”
An Old Team Guy 10th SFG
"12/23/21 was a sad day for all of us but what we must do is remember Darren and the great life he lived, the many lives he touched, and his contributions to the Army and Special Forces. Darren Baldwin was one of the five General’s aides I had the opportunity to work with while I served as the Command Chief Warrant Officer for the Special Forces Command from 2002 to 2007. Darren, by far, was the finest. His loyalty and professionalism were often noticed by the Command Group where he became an indispensable asset. However, Darren was much more than that for me, he was my friend. It was a friendship that came easy, and we did our best to take care of each other. I believe that the only people that die are the ones we forget. I will never forget Darren. I will miss him"
"Ples Air" CW5(R) Lawrence Plesser
"I have had the honor and privilege to know and to serve with Darren on his first Special Forces team. Darren was the consummate professional who had the ability to bring calm in any tense situation but he was also a trusted teammate who knew his men and how to bring out the best in all of us. In addition to Darren's dedication to his profession and his men, he was above all a loyal and dedicated husband to a beautiful, supportive wife. Darren is someone I will always cherish and remember as a great teammate, but more importantly, a greater friend. De Oppresso Liber. 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13."
v/r, J. Henry Martin
"I had the pleasure of serving alongside Darren in two roles; first as the Group Command Sergeant Major while Daren was assigned as a Company Commander, and second as his wounded warrior advocate for over 10 years. While I watched his body succumb to injuries over time, the one thing that never broke was his spirit. In health and in sickness, the smile and sense of humor were always there as is evident in the photos in this gallery. The smiles in these pictures are just moments in time, but what I experienced in every interaction I had with Darren over the 10 years. Horton Foote said, 'I believe very deeply in the human spirit, and I have a sense of awe about it. I look around and ask, “What makes the difference? What is it?" I’ve known people the world has thrown everything at — to discourage them, to kill them, to break their spirit. And yet something about them retains a dignity. They face life and they don’t ask quarters. That was Darren,”