Author Archives: Daryl Densford

Today’s Technology Builds on Early Chaplain Media Pioneers

Chaplain (MAJ) Daryl Densford live streams a Catholic Mass at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, 22 March 2020

In our current COVID-19 situation, many chaplains have developed further in the use of alternative media to continue to provide religious support to the service members, civilians and family members to whom they minister. We have seen increased skill and creativity as chaplains and their enlisted assistants have learned and grown in their expertise. The use of alternative media isn’t new to the respective Chaplain Corps, however. In the early 1950’s, for example, the U.S. Army Chaplain School at Fort Slocum, NY, video recorded sermons for student development, cadre used closed-circuit television to increase their training reach and chaplain’s assistants were taught the use of audio-visual equipment. Chaplains are miles ahead of where they were 50 years ago, but still owe to their predecessors thanks for the foundation on which they now build to continue to serve and minister to those who depend on them.

Below are examples of how the Army Chaplain School used the technology of their day for training and preparing chaplains and their assistants in 1952.

This “picture shows a group of chaplain students in the course in Speech Techniques watching as an instructor briefs them for a laboratory exercise. Presently, each of them will give an assigned ‘speech’ before the camera. By this means, the student will have an opportunity to watch himself on a television receiver which is at the rear of his audience. Thus, while his voice is being recorded, he will be able to see himself ‘as others see him.'”1

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“As with the chaplains, the occasion sometimes arises when it becomes desirable to receive instruction by way of closed circuit television system which originates in the studio to present the same lesson to several classrooms at once. The Chaplain School, a pioneer in this kind of teaching by closed circuit television, has worked with other educational agencies, military and civilian to develop effective techniques for this new adaptation of the television medium.”2

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“The chaplain’s enlisted assistant is his ‘right hand man’ in garrison and in combat.” At the U.S. Army Chaplain School they take “…special courses in audiovisuals and motion picture projection [to] make it possible for them to increase their value as assistants to army chaplains.”3

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“The Chaplain School,” Fort Slocum, NY: U.S. Army Chaplain School, 1952, pg 4.

Ibid., pg 12.

Ibid., pg 11.

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Remembering Chaplain Downey on the Anniversary of Bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Chaplain William B. Downey, 509th Composite Bomb Group

Many chaplains find themselves in the middle of history in the making, some of them making that history. Army Air Corps  Chaplain William B. Downey, of the 509th Composite Bomb Group, was there when history was being made. According to Downey in a 1987 interview, “one of the security officers told me a little time before, there was going to be a really fantastic new thing, only one of the greatest things that ever happened in the history of the world.”In the midst of this “greatest thing,” Chaplain Downey was there bringing God to the crews of the Enola Gay and Bockscar who would drop the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945.

Read 186 more words and hear Chaplain Downey pray with the crew of the Enola Gay here…

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The Chaplain Corps’ Birthday

In 2001, Chaplain (MG) Gaylord T. Gunhus, then Army Chief of Chaplains,  wrote this letter to chaplains and chaplain assistants, about the Chaplain Corps’ birthday on 29 July:

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The Chaplain Corps’ Birthday

by Chaplain (MG) G.T. Gunhus, Chief of Chaplains

“We have come a long way since the Continental Congress officially established in 1775 the position of chaplain in the Continental Army. The stipend of $33 per month was established for the chaplains, an amount equal to the pay of a captain.

“During the Revolutionary War the Chaplaincy was a representation of the nation’s religious denominations: 90 Congregationalists, 41 Presbyterians, 20 Anglicans, 11 Baptists, two Lutherans and one Roman Catholic. Since that time, we have ministered to the soldiers and family members of the U.S. Army in war and peace. Our numbers have varied fro a very few in the 1800’s to a high of 8,117 chaplains in World War II.

“It wasn’t until 1914 that chaplains wore the official uniform of an Army officer. The original insignia, a shepherd’s crook, signified the pastoral role of the chaplain. The chaplain’s crook was replaced by a Latin Cross on May 31, 1898. It was authorized for use by all Protestant and Catholic Chaplains. During World War 1, when a large number of Jewish rabbis served in the Army, the Tablets of the Law, with the Star of David, was authorized for them. Those two insignia and the crescent surmounted with a star, the insignia for the Muslim chaplain, are the insignia which identify all of us today.

“Since the beginning of World War II, chaplains have been required to minister in combat unarmed. The signing of the Geneva Convention entitled chaplains to a noncombatant role and protected person status. However, of the 33 chaplains interned by the Japanese in the Philippines, 18 died and many of the survivors were beaten for attempting to invoke the Geneva Convention in an effort to minister to their soldiers. Also, during World War II, 124 chaplains were killed in action, in Korea 13 lost their lives, and 13 were killed in Vietnam.

“Connected to the heritage of the Army Chaplaincy is its history of creative ministry and appropriate pastoral care. The Army is a better institution in which to serve because the Unit Ministry Teams (UMTs) have continually delivered the message of hope and made practical applications to that message. The UMTs’ loan closets and the chaplains’ multifaceted counseling have become institutionalized in what is now known as Army Community Services. When commanders were troubled by problems of racism, rights of individuals, and drug and alcohol abuse, chaplains responded with programs that are now known as Equal Opportunity, Total Army Quality, and the Army Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Program. Today our Chaplain Family Life Centers set the pace for the Army Family Support Activities.

“The Army Chaplaincy is facing new challenges: reduced force, numerous deployments, reduced resources and the impact of those factors on the quality of life for the soldier and family members. As we celebrate the 226th Anniversary of the Army Chaplaincy, may we renew our call to the service of the Lord. May our pastoral care and ministry renew the spirit and soul of our soldiers and family members. May we bring hope and strength to all of those we serve. This is my prayer for you, for all the Army Chaplaincy and the people we serve.

“GOD BLESS YOU AND HAVE A GREAT DAY!”

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From a letter to Lutheran chaplains from Chaplain Stake dated 19 August 2001, from the personal chaplain papers of Chaplain Paul Howe (TCK Archives).

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22 July 1864: Chaplain Haney takes up arms and earns the MoH

“Chaplain Milton L. Haney was awarded the Medal of Honor on November 3, 1896. It was awarded for his actions during the Battle of Atlanta at Peachtree Creek on July 22, 1864. Four men earned the medal of Honor that day, and among those four was Milton Haney, sometimes called “The Fighting Chaplain” by the men of the 55th Illinois Infantry.”1

“When the tide of the battle was critical on July 22, Chaplain Haney voluntarily took up a musket and joined the ranks of his regiment, fighting with his men in retaking the Union works that had previously fallen to enemy forces.”“Milton Haney was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in a federal counterattack during fierce fighting outside Atlanta.”3

Haney “was born at Savannah, OH on January 23, 1825, and he died at Altadena, CA on January 20, 1922 at the age of 96. He is buried in the Mountain View Cemetery.”4

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Chaplain Regimental Museum Association’s Facebook page.

Ibid.

Herman A. Norton, “Struggling for Recognition: The United States Army Chaplaincy, 1791-1865.”  Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Department of the Army, 1977.

Chaplain Regimental Museum Association’s Facebook page.

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Chaplain Herman Felhoelter, First Chaplain Casualty of the Korean War

16 July 1950, not long after the beginning of the conflict in Korea, elements of the 19th Infantry Regiment were forced to retreat after the Battle of Taejon near the Kum River. After urging the medical officer to continue the retreat with those Soldiers who could walk, Chaplain Felhoelter stayed with the wounded, all of which -including Chaplain Felhoelter- were killed by the advancing North Koreans. This video tells a little of his story and what we can learn from his sacrifice.

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Learning from Chaplain Kapaun

About 70 years ago (25 June 1950) the conflict in Korea began as North Korean forces invaded the south. One of the first American units to arrive in Korea was the 8th Cavalry, and one of their chaplains was Emil Kapaun. Here’s a little bit of his story and an encouragement to follow his example.

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The Chaplain’s Job During the Mexican Border War

It is interesting how this chaplain, in 1915, was searching for the best way to do his job while struggling with some of the things that chaplains still struggle with today. It is an interesting look into the life of a chaplain from early last century, deployed with his soldiers.

The Chaplain’s Job

by John M. Thomas

“Tent Talk (International Film)”

“I did not hold a regimental church. The army has a bugle call for ‘church,’ plaintive, soft, and very beautiful, and some chaplains console themselves for handful audiences by imaginations of mysterious influences supposed to proceed from the mere sounding of the church I wanted something more tangible. So I had a motor truck driven into a company street every Sunday evening and the entire regiment assembled in regular formation before it…

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Continue reading this story at The Chaplain’s Job

Why is Memorial Day Important?

As a nation who cherishes its freedom, Memorial Day should be one of the most significant of holidays as we honor those who have fallen in defense of the freedoms we cherish. Here is a brief video with a summary of the history of Memorial Day and an encouragement to remember those who died for our freedom.

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It Could Be Worse… (Part 2)

It may be difficult not gathering for worship together during the COVID-19 pandemic, but just think, you could be gathering for worship in a barn … away from home … using a portable pump organ … in a combat zone!

The caption to this U.S. Army photograph dated 1944 reads:

Artillerymen attached to an Armored Unit attend Protestant Services held in a barn near France.

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U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo, ETO-HQ-44-17550 (TCK Archives)

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It Could Be Worse…

It may be difficult not gathering for worship together during the COVID-19 pandemic, but just think, you could be gathering for worship outside … in the snow … in the cold … in Alaska!

The caption to this U.S. Army photograph dated 31 January 1955 reads:

Time Out for Worship at Camp

Using a Jeep as improvised altar, Chaplain (Maj.) Joseph M. Mollner, chaplain of the 53d Infantry, celebrates Roman Catholic mass during Exercise Snowbird. Troops of the 53d have established base camp near Caswell, Alaska, and they will act as ‘aggressor’ forces during second phase of the maneuvers.

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Photo by PVT Vial, Fort Richardson, Alaska, 31 Jan 1955 (TCK Archives).

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