“The Chaplain Kit” Offers a Window Back in Time

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Easter in Uniform

Wherever Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines go, Chaplains go with them to provide for worship and other religious events. Easter is no different, and for Christians, even brings a greater emphasis when deployed and away from home. Below are a few pictures from Easter celebrations from years past.

Chaplain Peter Paul Cooney

Catholic Chaplain celebrating Mass on Easter in 1864. Photo credit: http://the-american-catholic.com/tag/catholic-chaplains/

chaplain highline

Transferring the chaplain for Easter service by highline from the U.S.S. HEERMANN DD-532

“One of many Easter services held on Appenine mountainsides by the Tenth Mountain Division April 1, 1945; conducted by Caplain William H. Bell for the 605th Artillery Battalion at Rocca Pitigliano. A large group of soldiers sit in a grassy open field with heads bowed. Before them stands the chaplain with a box beside him, a jeep marked beneath the windshield with ‘Chaplain’ in between two crosses, and a portable pump organ.”

“April 1, 1945. Protestant Easter Service in Appennines, Italy
background are trees and buildings.; Members of the Tenth Mountain Division, 605th Artillery Battalion, attend a Protestant Easter religious service at Rocca Pitigliano, Italy, conducted by Chaplain William H. Bell. In the foreground, four men bow their heads together. Corporal Ralph Squires sits at a portable organ and two soldiers face the Chaplain who stands in front of his jeep draped with a white cloth in use as an altar for a small crucifix.”

“Tenth Mountain Division Cpl. Ralph Squires plays the organ during the 605th Artillery Battalion Protestant Easter service held April 1, 1945, at Rocca Pitigliana, Italy. Worshipers sit on grass listening.”

Elder Kim Shi-han

In 1952, soldiers of the 15th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Division participate in Easter worship service in the open field in Cheolwon, Gangwon-do.

Navy worship

Worship service for Navy personnel. Looks like Easter

314th Bombardment Wing Bulletin

Easter Worship Service bulletin, 1 April 1945, 314th Bombardment Wing, Guam (author’s collection).

314th Bombardment Wing Worship Bulletin

Inside of Easter Worship Service bulletin, 1 April 1945, 314th Bombardment Wing, Guam (author’s collection).

Easter Sunrise Service Italy 1 April 1945

Allied Protestant Sunrise Easter Service, In front of the 17th General Hospital, Italy, 1 April 1945 (author’s collection).

Easter Sunrise Service, Italy, 1 April 1945

Allied Protestant Sunrise Easter Service, In front of the 17th General Hospital, Italy, 1 April 1945 (author’s collection).

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Capstone field exercise tests skills of new chaplains

(From the official Army website)

CHBOLC-1FORT JACKSON, South Carolina — Complete with a Tactical Operations Center (TOC), media engagements and reality-based missions — along with conducting Soldier Leader Engagements with indigenous personnel — students from the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course experienced the challenges of caring for Soldiers in a simulated combat environment, March 27-31.

CHBOLC is an intensive, outcomes-based, entry-level, initial military training process for newly accessioned chaplains and chaplain candidates, with a mission to train students to become religious leaders who demonstrate the core competencies of nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the fallen, while advising commanders and providing religious support to the Army Family.

“The CHBOLC Capstone FTX (Field Training Exercise) is a Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) 2.2 scenario-driven exercise, providing students the opportunity to apply classroom training in a realistic and progressive training environment,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Andrew K. Arrington, the CHBOLC course developer.

Read the full article here

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Defense Logistic Agency HQ Dedicates New Prayer Room

Prayer, meditation room gives HQC employees calm atmosphere to practice spirituality

by Beth Reece. Originally published by the DLA at their website.

DLA Prayer Room

Army Capt. Demetrius Walton, DLA’s deputy command chaplain, kneels in prayer in the McNamara Headquarters Complex’s newly renovated prayer and meditation room. Above him is an LED light box that depicts a stained glass window from the Defense Distribution Susquehanna Chapel, which was built in 1941 and is one of the Defense Department’s oldest chapels. (Photo by Beth Reece)

Fort Belvoir, Virginia — A quiet, serene spot for prayer and reflection is just steps away for McNamara Headquarters Complex employees.

The former chapel in Room 1331 is now a newly renovated prayer and meditation room open 24/7 for employees of all faiths. A Feb. 16 ribbon-cutting ceremony will formally open the room to employees, but it is already available for use.

“We’ve redesigned the space so everything inside helps with prayer and meditation,” said Army Col. Carleton Birch, the Defense Logistics Agency’s command chaplain. “We also took into account different types of faith, so instead of being filled with chairs, there’s an open space on the floor for meditation and Muslim prayer.”

A water fountain, scenic wall mural and guest book where employees can record prayer requests are among the updates. Other changes include all new ceiling tiles, recessed lighting, carpet, furniture and prayer rugs. A private room is also available inside for pastoral counseling and reading.

DLA Prayer Room

A water fountain, scenic wall mural and guest book where employees can record prayer requests are among the updates in the McNamara Headquarters Complex’s meditation and prayer room. (Photo by Beth Reece)

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the room is an LED light box that depicts a stained glass window from the Defense Distribution Susquehanna Chapel, which was built in 1941 and is one of the Defense Department’s oldest chapels.

Birch said the room further demonstrates DLA’s commitment to resiliency, a goal that’s part of the “People and Culture” objectives in the agency’s strategic plan. The DLA resiliency model includes four pillars: mental, physical, social and spiritual.

“DLA recognizes the value of people’s spirituality in their personal resiliency, and the fact that we can provide a place to practice that is a good thing for employees and DLA as a whole. People don’t stop having faith just because they come to work,” Birch said.

He hopes the room will become a center where employees can also exhibit their faith by helping others.

“We used to collect toiletries for homeless shelters in the area, for example. We’re trying to get that going again, and we’re also partnering with the Fisher House here on Fort Belvoir to see what we can do to help them,” Birch added.

DLA Prayer Room

The McNamara Headquarters Complex’s prayer and meditation room features a private room for pastoral counseling and reading. (Photo by Beth Reece)

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This article first appeared at the Defense Logistics Agency’s website, 15 February 2017. The photos, taken by Beth Reece, appeared with the article and are in the public domain.

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Fort Jackson’s Cantonment Chapel

Similar to U.S. military posts around the country during the train-up to our participation in WW2, Fort Jackson had built on it 17 cantonment chapels to accommodate the religious support of the thousands of new Soldiers who were flooding into it for training. Today, there are few of these chapels left, some posts having one or two being used, others with one being preserved as part of the museum system or historic districts. Fort Jackson has one of these chapels remaining which, due to budget cuts, is slated to be razed. On 13 December 2016, The State newspaper did an article on the future of their Memorial Chapel.

Should Fort Jackson’s World War II-era Memorial Chapel be saved from demolition?

Fort Jackson Memorial Chapel

Memorial Chapel (Originally Chapel #1) was built in 1941 (Photo from The State website).

“For more than 30 years, Kathryn Woodward has attended an interdenominational worship service each week at the World War II-era Memorial Chapel on Fort Jackson.

“Today, the chapel, along with all other World War II-era wooden buildings on Army installations across the country, is slated for demolition. They are inefficient, expensive to heat, cool and maintain, and they don’t fit the needs of the modern workplace, the Army says.

Fort Jackson Memorial Chapel

Interior of Memorial Chapel (photo from The State website).

“But Woodward, 92, believes the chapel should stay because in 1983 it was dedicated by then-Fort Jackson commander Maj. Gen. Albert Akers to all the soldiers who trained at Fort Jackson for service in World War II. Woodward’s late husband, Arthur, was also a World War II veteran.

 “The chapel — along with 16 others constructed at the fort during the buildup to World War II — were initially dedicated 75 years ago Wednesday.

“ ‘We’re trying to get an exception,’ said Woodward, who is joined in the effort by many of her fellow 40 or so congregants, along with a Jewish congregation that also worships there.”

Continue reading at The State website

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Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Commemoration

With 2016 being the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack and the United States’ official entry into World War Two, the various commemorations around the country are even more significant. I had the priviledge of attending the Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Commemoration  at the National World War 2 Memorial in Washington D.C. Present were seven Pearl Harbor survivors along with many more WW2 veterans. The keynote speaker was Senator John McCain, whose father and grandfather both served during WW2. The Invocation was given by Rev. Richard Young who is a Pearl Harbor survivor who became a minister after his military service. Navy Chaplain, Commander Michael Pumphrey, CHC, prayed the closing prayer with significant emphasis added through the accompaniment of the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Band.

Here are a few pictures from the ceremony, with videos of Rev. Young’s and Chaplain Pumphrey’s prayers:

Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Commemoration

 

Mike Hydeck

The Master of Ceremonies was Mike Hydeck, WUSA9 CBS Morning Anchor.

Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Commemoration

At the podium is Gay Vietzke, NPS Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Seated to the left is Senator McCain, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Frederick Smith, founder and president of FedEx.

Elliott (Toby) Roosevelt III

FDR’s great grandson, Elliott (Toby) Roosevelt III, read FDR’s statement to Congress on the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s message to the nation on the evening of the attack.

Senator John McCain

Senator John McCain was the Keynote speaker. Not only is McCain a Vietnam veteran and POW survivor but his father and grandfather both served during WW2 and both became flag officers.

Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary Commemoration

On the other side of the fountain, the dignitaries and veterans in attendance place wreaths at the Freedom Wall.

 

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WW2 Memorial

Volunteers of the NPS Living History program (dressed in period uniforms) escorted the WW2 vets into the ceremony.

National WW2 Memorial

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A Greeting From Your Chaplain

Published around World War Two, this brochure offers advice to Soldiers and Sailors, such as selecting companions carefully, living a morally clean life and establishing a reputation for good character. It was written by Chaplain Moehlmann, who according to the Wartburg College website, “… entered the Army chaplaincy in 1930 and was stationed in Hawaii at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. He attained the rank of Colonel while supervising as many as 242 chaplains in the European Theater during World War II” (author’s collection).

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Testament of His Profession

I’ve heard the expression “wearing your heart on your sleeve” but never “wearing your New Testament on your helmet”!

Vietnam Chaplain Carter Tucker

The caption on this press photo reads: “(NY3-March 5) TESTAMENT OF HIS PROFESSION–Chaplain Capt. Carter Tucker of Monticello, Ark., carried the New Testament in this fashion to prevent it from getting sweaty or wet as he accompanied U.S. infantrymen in War Zone C. The chaplain was with the U.S. 25th Infantry Division on Operation Junction City in South Vietnam near the Cambodian border last week. (AP Wirephoto) (pr10938str) 1967” (author’s collection).

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Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge*

Hacksaw Ridge

Andrew Garfield as Desmond T. Doss in Hacksaw Ridge (courtesy hacksawridge.movie)

I have never been to a movie that the audience applauded for when it ended but I clapped along with the crowd after watching Hacksaw Ridge. This true story of Desmond T. Doss’ experience on Okinawa which earned him the Medal of Honor is nothing short of moving and inspirational and made me want to be a better Soldier and person.

The film begins when Doss was just a child growing up in Lynchburg, Virginia where his family experiences and religious convictions as a Seventh-Day Adventist made him a conscientious objector. Still wanting to be part of the military to do his share in defending freedom, he became a medic so that he could help to save lives instead of take them.

After a very tumultuous time at basic training where neither his company commander nor sergeant understood his unwillingness to even handle a weapon, his courage under fire and commitment to save lives, empowered by his faith in God, enabled Doss to save 75 Soldiers during some of the hottest fighting of the Battle of Okinawa.

While the characters at first ridiculed his faith and commitment to not killing, the movie itself showed respect for Doss’ religious commitment and relationship with God which culminated in his gaining the respect of his unit and earning a reputation for courage.

Hacksaw Ridge does not glorify war any more than it condemns it, though the combat action is realistic and at times disturbing.† If anything, it shows the horrors of combat which Doss was able to overcome in order to save the lives of both Americans and Japanese as an expression of his Christian faith. The boyish appearance of Andrew Garfield, who plays Doss, instead of being a distraction, contributes to portraying the innocence of Doss as a young Christian trying to understand his religious convictions while struggling with his repugnance of killing.

Hacksaw Ridge is a movie that people need to see regardless of their faith. It shows the power of conviction and the ability of the human spirit to overcome any number of fears and dangers to do what is right. For Christians, there is the added dimension of seeing how our faith in God and willingness to submit to Him can enable us to do more than what would normally be expected of anyone.

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† Warning: If you are a combat veteran who suffers from Combat Stress, PTSD, Moral Injury, or other similar afflictions as a result of your experience in combat, many scenes in this movie may cause you difficulty and could trigger unwanted responses.

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*Editor’s Note: This is the first movie review The Chaplain Kit has published. While Hacksaw Ridge is not a movie about chaplains it nevertheless is a film that chaplains should see to better understand both their Soldiers who may struggle with killing and others who may not understand them. Additionally, Hacksaw Ridge could be a good movie to use with Soldiers for spiritual/professional development with guided discussion.

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Chaplain Charles Watters, MOH Winner

On 19 November 1967 Chaplain Charles Watters was killed in action, selflessly serving Soldiers in Vietnam. He later posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Chaplain Charles Watters-Worship

Chaplain (MAJ) Charles Watters conducting worship in Vietnam. Waters later died in the battle for Hill 875 at Dak To on November 19, 1967 (photo from U.S. Army Chaplain Corps Facebook page)

Chaplain Charles Watters

Chaplain Watters name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall (photo by author)

“Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on 17 January 1927, Watters was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1953 and served in parishes in Jersey City, Rutherford, Cranford, and Paramus. In 1962, he became a chaplain in the New Jersey Air National Guard. In 1964, Watters entered the Army as a chaplain at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

“In July 1966, Chaplain Watters was assigned to the Republic of Vietnam and served with Company A, 173d Support Battalion, 173d Airborne Brigade. Although he was officially assigned to the 173d Support Battalion, Watters often accompanied the brigade’s line units into the field. In July 1967, after completing his twelve-month tour, he voluntarily extended his tour by another six months.

Chaplain-Watters-Kit-2

Chaplain Watters chaplain kit, destroyed during an attack in Vietnam. It is now on display at the U.S. Army Chaplain Museum (photo by author)

“In November 1967, Chaplain Watters was with 2d Battalion, 503d Infantry, as the battalion took part in the bloody fighting for Hill 875 around Dak To. For Watters, the culmination of the battle came on 19 November. During that day, an intense fire fight broke out with the enemy forces. Without thinking of his own safety, Watters began to rush out on the battle field to help collect the dying and wounded and bring them to safety. Completely exposed, Chaplain Watters administered the Sacrament of Last Rites to his dying men. Every time his unit began to charge the front line, Watters was ahead picking up the wounded and administering the sacraments to those who had fallen. He also helped carry others to safety, including a paratrooper who was in shock and unable to move from his exposed position.

Chaplain Charles Watters Arlington

Chaplain Watters grave in Arlington National Cemetery (photo by author)

“After hours of intense fighting and with the perimeter of the battlefield in a state of constant confusion, Chaplain Watters continued to maintain his composure in a time of severe crisis. For hours after the initial fighting, he kept venturing out between friendly and enemy lines picking up the wounded, providing the exhausted soldiers with food and water, administering the sacraments, and helping the medics give aid to the wounded. There were even efforts to try to restrain Chaplain Watters from his heroic and courageous deeds because of his vulnerability to enemy and friendly fire. Sadly, Watters himself became a victim of the battle raging on Hill 875 and did not survive the day.”1

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Here is the citation from his Medal of Honor award:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Chaplain Watters distinguished himself during an assault in the vicinity of Dak To. Chaplain Watters was moving with one of the companies when it engaged a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged and the casualties mounted, Chaplain Watters, with complete disregard for his safety, rushed forward to the line of contact. Unarmed and completely exposed, he moved among, as well as in front of the advancing troops, giving aid to the wounded, assisting in their evacuation, giving words of encouragement, and administering the last rites to the dying. When a wounded paratrooper was standing in shock in front of the assaulting forces, Chaplain Watters ran forward, picked the man up on his shoulders and carried him to safety. As the troopers battled to the first enemy entrenchment, Chaplain Watters ran through the intense enemy fire to the front of the entrenchment to aid a fallen comrade. A short time later, the paratroopers pulled back in preparation for a second assault. Chaplain Watters exposed himself to both friendly and enemy fire between the 2 forces in order to recover 2 wounded soldiers. Later, when the battalion was forced to pull back into a perimeter, Chaplain Watters noticed that several wounded soldiers were lying outside the newly formed perimeter. Without hesitation and ignoring attempts to restrain him, Chaplain Watters left the perimeter three times in the face of small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire to carry and to assist the injured troopers to safety. Satisfied that all of the wounded were inside the perimeter, he began aiding the medics–applying field bandages to open wounds, obtaining and serving food and water, giving spiritual and mental strength and comfort. During his ministering, he moved out to the perimeter from position to position redistributing food and water, and tending to the needs of his men. Chaplain Watters was giving aid to the wounded when he himself was mortally wounded. Chaplain Watters’ unyielding perseverance and selfless devotion to his comrades was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.2

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National Museum of the United States Army website.

Home of Heroes website.

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