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A Toast to the Chaplain (an ode to coffee)

Chaplains and coffee are intimately linked, especially during deployments when they provide donated coffee for their service members. The following article from a 1971 Leatherneck Magazine reminds us of Chaplain George Jones and his introduction of coffee to the Navy in 1842, as well as the enormous amount of coffee Marines drank in 1971.

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“Instead of toasting a chaplain during the anniversary month of the Navy, we should probably petition the Navy Department to set aside one day during which time American servicemen could pay tribute to Navy Chaplain George Jones.

“‘What did he do?’ you ask.

“WHAT DID HE DO? He introduced the serving of coffee in the United States Navy, that’s what he did! That was 129 years ago, in 1842.

“Consider; how many heavies would lose their balance without a cup of coffee in their right hand? Consider also; if you think your first sergeant is mean in the morning before his first cup of coffee, what the hell would he be like around 1530 if the Marine Corps didn’t have coffee?

“How important is coffee to a Marine? Miss Ritamae Bouchard of the Food Service Branch at Headquarters Marine Corps figures that Marines drink nearly two and a quarter million gallons of coffee a year. That’s 36,095,445 cups!

“Last year the average American consumed a little more than 14 pounds of coffee. It cost us one billion, 140 million dollars to import that coffee.

“More simply, knowing that there are 16,660 gallons of coffee to a ton, and also knowing that the Marine Corps drinks over two million gallons, we find that the Corps rinks over 120 tons of coffee each year!

“Do you understand how much coffee that is?

“Assuming that the average Marine continues drinking coffee as he has over the past two years, in another 666 years and 243 days, Marines would have consumed enough of the fluid to float the largest aircraft carrier in the world, the USS John F. Kennedy!

“(Just why anyone would desire to float the carrier in coffee is something I’m sure I don’t know, but you read it first in Leatherneck!)

“General Raymond G. Davis, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, is a coffee drinker, preferring a small amount of milk with a saccharine tablet. He is probably one of the few Marines who doesn’t have his own inscribed or decorated coffee cups, using whatever clean cup is available at the time.

“(Pfc Pierce Philip’s cup bears no descriptive phrases, either. He swiped it from the mess hall. Pierce likes four lumps of sugar, a half cup of Pream and two tablespoons of water. He doesn’t like coffee.)

“So, Marine, as you pour yourself a cup of coffee during the month of October, raise your cup in a toast to Chaplain Jones. The ironic twist of his claim to fame is the fact that the chaplain drank tea!”

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by Tom Bartlett, Leatherneck Magazine, October 1971, pg. 12 (author’s collection).

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Scan of the page the above article came from (author’s collection).

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The Chaplains Corps (for the Marines)

This an interesting article from a 1952 Leatherneck magazine which reflects on the history and passion of Navy chaplains serving with the Marines:

“Faith is a mighty important word to a Marine faced with the reality of combat. Military training and confidence in his weapon and in his fellow Marines help on the physical side. But a fourth aid is just as important to many–the presence of an old friend and confidant, the Navy chaplain.

“Romp and stomp for the padres by a Marine drill instructor”

“Chaplains have been providing front line spiritual guidance and solace ever since there has been a Navy–ever since Edward Brooks received his commission as a chaplain in 1777. Since the Marine Corps has no chaplain corps of its own, its personnel have always been included within the Navy chaplains’ ministry.

“The earliest discovered reference to any extensive work by Navy chaplains directly for Marines appeared in a letter of December 4, 1862, in which Chaplain C. S. Stewart wrote to a friend describing his activities with the Marines at the New York Navy Yard Hospital.

Click here to continue reading this article (about 1300 more words)…

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Three Generations of Chaplains

In honor of the 243rd birthday of the Navy Chaplain Corps, here is the story of three generations of Navy chaplains in one family, who served with the British, the Revolution-engulfed American colonists and the new United States.

Balch-William-Portrait

William Balch. Artwork by Clayton Braun, circa 1940s

The Balch family chaplain-legacy begins in 1744 when Thomas Balch (1711-1774) was selected by the British government to accompany British troops, as their chaplain, on their deployment to fight the French in what is now Canada. “In 1744, when the War of Austrian Succession broke out in Europe, the Committee of War chose Thomas to be a Chaplain to the forces that led an assault at the Siege of Louisbourg. This siege was carried out, by the British, against French forces in modern Canada.

Read more about the Balch chaplains in America here (537 more words)…

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Chaplain’s Etiquette-The Matter of Time*

The chaplain’s reputation is often based on his or her timeliness as on any other characteristic. This was no less true in 1965 when the following article appeared in a Navy chaplains’ newsletter:

Fleet-Chaplains-Newsletter“Punctuality is expected of all officers, but is especially appropriate for chaplains. ‘It is said that promptness and responsibility go hand in hand. Therefore a habitual lack of punctuality must be considered irresponsibility.’

“Divine services should start precisely at the time announced. Appointments, especially with senior officers and those in command, should be punctiliously met. Official calls should be made at the time scheduled in advance and  be kept within customary time limits.

“If the chaplain is a junior officer at an official or social function, he should not leave until after the guest of honor or the high ranking guest departs. At any party, the chaplain should not be the last guest to leave. When invited to share a boat or car with the commanding officer or a senior officer, the chaplain should be waiting when the host officer arrives.”

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*From the Fleet Chaplain’s Newsletter, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 1 April 1965, page 25, where it was reprinted from 1 June 1961 issue (author’s collection).

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Chaplain Corps Beginnings


Army Navy Air Force Chaplain Corps History

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