Category Archives: Chaplaincy

Coming soon to The Chaplain Kit…

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Christmas Time in Baghdad

“Christmas Time in Baghdad” Written and performed by John Proctor, an Army Chaplain Assistant who has served in Iraq as well as a number of other overseas locations. Christmas Time in Baghdad is a “true account from Christmas 2003 which was celebrated in Baghdad, Iraq with the 82nd Airborne.” The 2nd verse begins, “The Chaplain preached the Gospel..”

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Christmas at War

For as long as we’ve been a nation (and even before) American Service Members have been deployed during the holidays. Here’s a short video that shows some of the Christmas scenes from wartime deployments and the home front during war.

With this video goes out a special “Merry Christmas!” to our armed forces wherever they may be serving this Christmas.

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A 75 Year Old Christmas Story

Father Timothy Doody, taken in 1966. Courtesy Paul Williams.

On this day in 1944, a 21-year-old Army Private pulled his Jeep into the tiny farming hamlet of Cutter France. He was assigned to Headquarters Company of the 87th Infantry Division of Patton’s Third Army. The temperature was around 5 degrees. He was grateful that tonight he would finally be sleeping under a roof. But not before attending Midnight Mass in the local church. PFC Francis (Frank) Williams, my Dad, drove a Jeep as a Reconnaissance Specialist (Scout). He was the guy who would drive across enemy lines to report their movements. Many times, in the middle of the night. He dubbed his trusty Jeep the “Last Chance.” Most of Cutting, France had been evacuated by the Germans in 1940 but the local priest and a handful of residents were allowed to stay. The rest went to the south of France until the end of the war. Upon arrival to the town, Chaplain Timothy Doody, a Catholic Chaplain, met with his counterpart asking for permission to conduct Midnight Mass services that evening.

Continue reading this story (about 430 more words)…

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Happy 110th Anniversary to the Army Religious Affairs Specialists!

110 years ago this month (28 December 1909) the Army officially established the MOS, Chaplain Assistant, though Soldiers have been assisting chaplains since the Revolutionary War.  Here’s a brief video showing some of the history of Religious Affairs Specialists, a few famous ones and a few courageous assistants from their history.

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Army Chaplains During the Attack on Pearl Harbor

While the Navy sustained the most casualties during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army -with their Air Fields- also sustained much damage and many casualties. Here is a brief look at the ministry and insights of some of the Army Chaplains engaged in combat ministry on 7 December 1941.

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Combat Comes To The Chaplains

Wreckage at Wheeler Field

At 0755 that fateful Sunday morning Chaplain Terence P. Finnegan prepared for Mass. He stopped at Schofield Barracks chapel to get extra candles for service in the assembly hall. As he came in front of the little chapel, he saw the planes dive on Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field; they flew so low he could see the pilots. He drove his 1931 Buick in a mad dash to the artillery area to disperse the men assembled for Mass. His car was strafed on the way. Finnegan dispersed the men, but a bomb fell and killed six men as they took up positions. He said the last rites for the dead, drove to the hospital in an ambulance full of \rounded men, and ministered there to the living and dying. More than 400 litters filled the hospital. In the afternoon he went out to a plane that crashed and burned, to pull out the broken body of the pilot and administer the last rites. He ate breakfast at 5 o’clock that afternoon and didn’t get his clothes off for the next three days. Assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, he was the only Catholic chaplain who served the Schofield Barracks hospital.

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Read the rest of this article here…

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Navy Chaplains at Pearl Harbor

With 7 December upon us, it is good to remember the ministry and valiantry of Navy Chaplains during the Japanese attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. The following article is from Drury’s Navy history.

Navy Chaplains at Pearl Harbor

“In a well-coordinated attack, which revealed detailed information about the disposition of the ships in the harbor, the Japanese planes dropped their torpedoes and bombs with devasting effect. According to reports, one Japanese pilot realized a dive bomber’s dream by dropping a bomb down one of Arizona’s stacks.2 A tremendous explosion followed. The forward magazine blew up. Oil from her tanks poured out upon the water and began to burn. In an instant the proud Arizona was a roaring inferno, entombing most of her crew. Only a few escaped the holocaust and Tom Kirkpatrick was not among them.”

Four enemy torpedoes plunged into the port side of the Oklahoma, in which Chaplain A. H. Schmitt was serving his first tour of duty at sea in the Navy. The vessel began to list to port as water poured into her hold. Gradually the ship rolled over, settling with the starboard side of the bottom above water. Many men were trapped. Chaplain Schmitt made his way with several of the crew to a compartment. An open port-hole afforded means of escape, and through this the men, one by one, with the Chaplain’s help, crawled to safety.

 

Continue reading this article at The Chaplain Kit…

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WW2 Padres’ Battle School

This article, published just over a month before D-Day, gives a brief glimpse at some of the expedited training British Soldiers received before going off to war.

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Padres’ Battle School1

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The modern padre learns the art of camouflage. Green webbing, a tuft or two of grass, and a smear with special camouflage paint, soon do the trick.

“The modern padre learns the art of camouflage. Green webbing, a tuft or two of grass, and a smear with special camouflage paint, soon do the trick.

“Like a swordless Crusader, the front-line padre prepares to go out with the armies of liberation. Straw and greasepaint hide his clerical collar, for he trains in his camouflage kit. But he is ready and eager to take back the things of the spirit to a Europe which has known little but filth and firing squad for nearly five torturous years.

“Today, in a lovely village in the Midlands, you can find this modern padre with a crusader shield as a ‘flash’ on his shoulder. For picked volunteers, young men and tough for the most part, go up there week by week to attend what is locally known as the Padres’ Battle School.”

(Continue reading “Padres’ Battle School” here…)

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Spiritual Rearmament

Just as chaplains participate in spiritual enrichment events today, about a month before D-Day, 75 chaplains of the Army Air Forces in England participated in a devotional day with the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was reported in the 26 April 1944 edition of The Stars and Stripes, European edition. Here’s the text from the article:

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Archbishop Will Conduct Service for U.S. Chaplains1

“A devotional day for U.S. Army Air Forces chaplains will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Friday in St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Sq., London. Seventy-five chaplains will attend.

“‘Spiritual Rearmament’ will be the theme of the service, beginning at 11:30 AM. The U.S. contingent will be headed by Arthur S. Dodgson, senior USSTAF chaplain; Chaplain Walter A. Dore, of the Eighth Air Force; Chaplain John F. Smeltzer, of the Ninth, and Chaplain Oakley Lee, of the Base Air Depot Area. In charge of arrangements will be Chaplain Walter P. Plumley, who will assist the Archbishop.”

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The article from the 26 April 1944 edition of The Stars and Stripes (TCK Archives).

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1 From “The Stars and Stripes,” European edition, Vol. 4, No. 149, 26 April 1944 (TCK Archives).

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Religion Helps You Face Hard Duty*

“Every camp in the country and every organization in action overseas has facilities for divine worship. The chaplains who serve in the camps and with the fighting men extend their efforts and compassion into every element of their men’s lives.

“The chaplains are available for advice or consultation on any religious or moral problems, and they are also considerately helpful in any other personal matters brought to them. You can see your chaplain without asking the permission of any superior. You can attend the church service of your choice each week, unless you have specific duties with which such attendance would interfere. Most chapels also conduct programs during midweek.

“Religion is always most strengthening and helpful to people whose lives are troubled, and whose realization is greatest that forces beyond their own control may alter their lives. As a soldier in a savage and brutalizing war, you can find peace and comfort in religion. With a foundation of religious understanding, you can build a broader character out of the experiences which await you.

“At the very beginning of your military service, establish the habit of attending chapel; get to know your chaplain. Preparing your mind for the shocks of combat is an opportunity which will always be yours in the Army, but it is not the kind of thing you can accomplish frantically at the last moment  when you may need it most.”

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* From Army Life, War Department Pamphlet 21-13, 10 August 1944 (TCK Archives).

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