One Year Completed!

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One year ago today I spent my first night on an Army base. Dozier Hall, Fort Jackson, SC. I look back and I am amazed how fast this year has flown by. I am even more astonished at the plethora of experiences I have had since that day. September 18 marks my first anniversary of active duty as a Chaplain in the United States Army. I loved CH-BOLC (Chaplain School). Yes, I would probably do it all over again. It was challenging and fun. I learned so much and became a Soldier. I miss my battle buddy Mike, and my 4th Squadron, and 1st Platoon folks. I miss them alot! Climb to Glory! Sacred Warriors! Three months later I surprised myself as I literally wept upon graduation. I was in disbelief, and more than a little nervous about what awaited me at Fort Benning.

I can tell you that I love Fort Benning. I often hear some of my peers tell me how much they don’t like working on Kelley Hill, in the Sledgehammer Brigade. Are you kidding me? Seriously. I love it. Yeah it’s tough. But I’ve worked in less fun environments. I am excited to get out of bed each day and drive to PT. i’ve come to realize I may never be a PT stud, but I think I am a very good Chaplain. The guys in the 3-1 Cavalry Squadron occasionally joke at how loudly I yell “charge” at first assembly. But I yell it so loudly because every day I stand there I am humbled to be serving God and Country. Being in the all-volunteer Army is a gift, an honor and a privilege. Not everyone can do it, nor gets to do it. In my book, a Chaplain being salt and light to others in the Army is the greatest job in the world. Im not just saying this to sound all “Hooah.” I truly am a very happy, very blessed man. I have the best Command team I could have hoped for. God gave me opportunities. CH-BOLC set me up for success. And my Command team entrusts me to get the work done. They don’t micromanage. I love that. I’ve counseled over 650 Soldiers and/or Spouses this past year. I’ve led or helped lead nearly 450 in Strong Bonds events. I’ve gotten to serve Families and Children as in the past… only now in the Army! I’ve gotten to go to NTC! Hard? Yes! But fun and rewarding!? I wouldnt trade it for the world. I have gotten to ride in the backs of Bradley vehicles as they fired at the range. Ive ridden in first class in a 747. Ive gotten to perform military funerals and memorial ceremonies, weddings and field worship services. And best of all, Ive been entrusted with caring for America’s sons and daughters. The mission field comes directly to the Chaplain. I have met so many interesting people in the Army from all walks of life. I got to serve with not one but two Chaplain Assistants! SPC Holsey was a surprise I wasnt expecting. She has been a real help. And I cannot say enough good things about SGT Finley. What a blessing it was for him to ask me to administer his reenlistment oath! We did the Spur Ride together and earned our Silver Spurs! I am a Chaplain. He is a Chaplain Assistant. But we are also Cavalrymen! I am blessed beyond what I imagined to be part of 3-1 Cav, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

It is the toughest job I will ever love. I have to say, I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I feel I am making a real difference. Once a couple of weeks ago after everyone was released for the day, a Soldier from another battalion sought me out. He was visibly upset and we were staring down a four day weekend. I was NOT going to let that Warrior walk without releasing what was on his mind. We sat in my office for three hours conversing. He told me his life story. He had gotten to a point in his life where he wanted to give it all up. He was suffering. I asked him if I could share part of my story. Together we revealed personal details. Two and a half hours into our conversation he broke down and was shaking. He revealed to me a very scary incident that he was involved in when he was deployed 6 years earlier. He accidentally nearly shot his NCO, but thankfully the safety on his weapon was still on. The incident lasted just a few moments, and his NCO still will never know. But this Soldier has carried that deep inside, feeling guilty for all this time. It had gotten him more and more depressed. In my office, i held his hand as he let it out. He seemed immediately to be in a better spirit after we prayed. I gave him a blank journal book a friend had given me, and encouraged him to write down other experiences. Gave him a Psalm 91 coin I was given at CH-BOLC. I left very humbled, blessed to have been able to probably save a life that day. The Soldier now has a plan to move forward and we have an open door to converse further.

I absolutely thank God for this opportunity to serve in this job. It is a mission I eagerly embrace. Yeah, knowing my background, my not-so-glamorous upbringing, I embrace being a Dog Face Soldier. “Not Fancy Just Tough.”. Amen. Thank you God. Thank you Lord Jesus! For this mission! For my coworkers! For my leaders! For my unit ministry team! For my family! For my friends! For my peers! For my home church support! For keeping me safe and healthy! FOR EVERYTHING! To GOD be all the Glory for GREAT things He has done!

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wilbur Wright on 18 September 12 at 10:05

    William,
    God bless you more each day for your service to God and country. We miss you at Haddock Baptist, but know how much you are needed and love the mission you are on. Keep safe and remember the love we have for you.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Mona on 18 September 12 at 11:03

    You continue to inspire through God work and your compassion. Thank you William for all you do, each and everyday. (((hugs)))

    Reply

    • Well said, Brother! Climb to Glory, or All American… Whatever it was for you. For me, Roll On. And that’s just what I’m doing — Rolling on.

      Keep the faith, Brother! Others are praying for you always.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Wendell & Barbara Wood on 20 September 12 at 22:36

    Thanks for your letter, man. BTA (before the army) when you’d be talking about your hope of becoming a military chaplain, the way your eyes and face would light up it figured you were on to something! Boy, were you ever!! My conviction then and now is that God had uniquely prepared you for what He had in mind for you.

    Don’t ever let go of His hand, otherwise, the awesome magnitude of it all would totally overwhelm you. Remember the words of the song “My Shepherd will supply my needs” and keep doing all you can to help those who are suffering in so many different ways.

    Wendell

    Reply

  4. Posted by Keith Jones on 21 September 12 at 00:17

    Hey, William, I’d lost contact with you when you entered the Army…drop me a line at kjonzetcmail (Got it? Keeping the spam programs at bay, ha!) I’d love to have you come up to Morganton, GA if possible the 2nd Sunday of February 2013 (or if that’s not possible, 2014) and speak at Scout Sunday for Troop 460/Den 460/VentureCrew 460, the three Scout organizations my church sponsors. Or give me a call at 706-258-8329. By the way, I Skyped with Rob Carr, who used to be national RA director, earlier tonight. –Keith Jones, pastor, Morganton Baptist (also former editor, Lad magazine back in 2001-2004)
    And THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Keith Jones on 21 September 12 at 00:18

    there’s an at sign after the z and a .com at the end of my email. Somehow that got filtered out, probably because I got ‘cutesy’ with some brackets.

    Reply

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