Category Archives: Chaplaincy

On This Day in Chaplain Corps History

On 6 June 1944, the largest amphibious combat assault in history took place as Allied forces landed in Normandy by air and sea. Among them were 13 chaplains who parachuted in with the airborne troops and many more who landed on the beaches. In this episode of “On This Day in Chaplain Corps History,” the stories of some of those chaplains are told.

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A Virtual tour of Chaplains Hill

There’s a quiet place set aside at Arlington National Cemetery where chaplains are remembered and honored. It’s called Chaplains Hill. What better time than Memorial Day to visit Chaplains Hill and be reminded of the service and sacrifice of the chaplains buried there?

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On this day in Chaplain Corps history

On 28 May 1948 the United States Post Office issued a stamp honoring the four chaplains who perished ministering to others when the Dorchester sunk after being torpedoed by a German Submarine in World War Two. Here’s a little more history about the stamp with a lot of samples of the First Day Covers.

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“Tell it to the Chaplain!”

It’s news in this man’s Army when corporal tells chaplain to keep his chin up

by Corporal Grant Robbins1

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“Look,” said the first sergeant. “Why don’t you just tell it to the chaplain?”

I had gone into the orderly room because my name was not on a new rating list. My sad story has such a long background of pyramided woes that I shall not go into it more than to say that only a good heart-to-heart talk with someone would straighten me out.

The following day I stood before the chaplain dressed neatly in patched fatigues to give the impression of a poor but honest home-spun GI.

“What have they done to you now?” asked the chaplain. “And kindly make it short.”

I sat down and let him have it straight. When the torrent had subsided, I sat back and searched the face of the chaplain for a reaction. He gazed at his feet and shook his head slowly.

“I just can’t understand the Army,” he said. “Now take me for example. You may think that I am doing pretty well, but I’ll tell you appearances are deceiving. After five country churches with an average salary of ten dollars a week, I finally get settled in a good town with a good congregation. And then, of course, I leave it to become a chaplain. Where do they put me? Out on a sand-blown camp in the desert, with a tent to preach in and a bunch of tank men who have no more inclination toward religion than Hottentots. Then the wind blows the tent away.”

I said that that was too bad.

“That was only the beginning,” he continued. “Shortly after I experienced a slight success in bringing some boys into the fold, they put another chaplain over me.”

He went on and on from one misfortune to another, and as his story developed one could easily see that he and Fate were at odds. Tears trickled down his cheeks and splashed off the bars on his collar.

Since passes were issued now only on Sundays his congregation had suffered a heart-breaking drop in attendance. And he had been ousted from his warm office to make room for the Red Cross. When he protested, he was mistaken for a mess officer and installed in a cubbyhole just off the mess kitchen, where from 0600 to 2100 came a heavy odor of frying Spam.

“And to top it all,” he said, “I have not received a promotion in eighteen months.”

I couldn’t stand it any longer. I reached across, patted him on the shoulder and said: “Keep your chin up, sir. I’m sure things will work out in the long run.”

He smiled miserably and thanked me. I tiptoed quietly out the door, leaving him in his grief.

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1 “Tell it to the Chaplain,” CORONET magazine, September 1945, pg. 68. (Excerpted from the book The Best from Yank, the Army Weekly, published at $3.50 by E. P. Dulton & Co., Inc., New York, N. Y.; copyright, 1945, by Franklin S. Forsberg.)

On this day in Chaplain Corps History

On 23 May 1951 Chaplain Emil Kapaun died as a Prisoner of War during the Korean War. Today, we remember him and his ministry to the Soldiers of his unit and fellow POWs whom he served unselfishly.

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Why Do I Want to be an Army Chaplain?

When a minister applies to be a chaplain in the Army, they are asked to submit a statement about why they want to be a chaplain. Going through my old files, I came across the statement that I wrote nearly 20 years ago as I was applying to become an Army chaplain. For me, it still holds true today, perhaps even more so.

In the face of the challenges in our nation today, the Army soldier is asked to do his or her duty to defend the Constitution of the United States with honor, integrity and selfless service while facing dangers on every side. Our young men and women in uniform give up the security of their familiar worshipping community to follow the call of their country to defend freedom.

These soldiers not only need the training that the Army gives them but also a presence that will give them moral and spiritual support as they face the potential risks of military service. While their spiritual leaders back home can give them some support, the Army Chaplain is uniquely qualified and equipped to be there for the soldiers when needed the most.

I feel called of God to represent Him and my Church as part of the Chaplain Corps. I believe that my experiences and education along with the additional training that the Army provides will combine to make me an effective Chaplain, working alongside those of other faith groups to serve our soldiers as they serve their country.

I want to be able to help those who have given up so much to be in uniform, to be a Chaplain who is ‘courageous in spirit and compassionate in service,’ continuing in the great tradition of the Chaplains who have gone before me, serving both God and country as a United States Army Chaplain.

Daryl W. Densford

24 January 2003

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Chaplains in Chapels Drinking Coffee

It’s exciting to introduce the new Chaplain Kit series, “Chaplains in Chapels Drinking Coffee.” In this pilot episode we talk to Chaplain (MAJ) Daryl Densford, one of the Ethics Instructors at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Chaplain Densford opens up about how it feels to be passed over for promotion and shares how his commitment to God’s call on his life was settled. He also tells us a bit about his website and DMin project.

As the pilot, this episode introduces the new The Chaplain Kit series, “Chaplains in Chapels Drinking Coffee.” Unabashedly inspired by Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” each episode will explore a different military chapel while visiting with a chaplain…drinking coffee. Unscripted and barely planned, the conversation could go anywhere-and often does.

Tune in to the premiere on Saturday, 1 May 2021, at 0900 EDT on our YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/xab3cm9v6_Q or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TheChaplainKit/ .

Chaplain O’Callahan & the USS Franklin

On 19 March 1945 Japanese bombers attacked the U.S.S. Franklin off the coast of Japan. Chaplain Joseph Timothy O’Callahan’s actions on that day earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. This video uses narrative from the program “Profiles in Patriotism” from a vinyl record produced by the U.S. Navy Recruiting Service about 1968.

Moral Conflict & Courageous Leadership

A new independent training module has been added to The Chaplain Kit Education page! In “Moral Conflict & Courageous Leadership” Chaplain Bob Boettcher, ethicist at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, helps chaplains better understand morality in the context of leadership. This training was presented at Fort Rucker, 11 February 2021, for the 110th Aviation Brigade Unit Ministry Teams.

Click here to go to the training page where you’ll find the video, presentation slides and lesson plans.

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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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