“The chaplains who went to war with U.S. soldiers in 1917 were often called ‘Holy Joe.’ The chaplains who are going to war in 1942 are more apt to be called ‘Chappie,’ a nickname indicative of an enlarged relationship. Army chaplains today have assumed a multitude of functions that make them resemble unofficial morale officers Apart from his purely religious duties, the average chaplain acts as adviser to the lovelorn, consoler of the sick, jailed and troubled, athletic director, organizer of recreation, banker, postmaster, lending librarian. He is, says grateful rookies, ‘the lonely soldier’s best friend.
“For the thousands of chaplains who are now best-friending the U. S. Army, the Government has built 600 regimental chapels, all equipped with mobile altars and pulpits which may be arranged to suit the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish forms of worship [see below]. Most of the men who officiate therein are graduates of a Chaplain School, recently transferred from Fort Benjamin Harrison to Harvard Universty, where they are physically toughened, taught military law, the principles of chemical warfare, close-order drill (without arms), map reading and first aid. Because a chaplain’s most important battlefront duty is identifying and burying the dead, they also learn to take fingerprints, select burial plots, mark graves, make official reports and package a fallen soldier’s personal belongings for his family.
“On the following pages [below] are shown some of the activities of a typical chaplain, Baptist George A. Ritchey, assistant division chaplain with the rank of captain of the 152nd Infantry Regiment, 38th Division, Camp Shelby, Miss.”
From “Army Chaplain,” LIFE, 14 September 1942, 89-92 (author’s collection).