News: Soldiers' chaplain supports Gunfighters
Story by Capt. Andrew Cochran
TARIN KOWT, Afghanistan - Soldiers gather in anticipation as the sound of three SUVs loaded with cargo approach Task Force Gunfighters, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, headquarters at Multinational Base Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.
As they round the corner into the compound and come to a stop, the unloading of packages begin. Parcel after parcel is offloaded, sorted and stacked outside, ready for pick up and transport to company mail rooms.
More than two-thirds of the boxes are care packages from grateful citizens containing hard-to-find essential hygiene items such as soap, toothbrushes and goodies, ranging from beef jerky to assorted nuts, that light up soldiers’ faces.
Organizations such as Adopt-A-Platoon and Adopt-A-Chaplain, along with churches from around the U.S. and individual citizens, adopt units in 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, and coordinate delivery of these gifts through the chaplain.
For the Gunfighters, that chaplain is Capt. Kevin Trimble, a preacher from Greeneville, Tenn., who has a doctorate in theology, two master's degrees, is air assault and pathfinder qualified, scored a 291 on his last PT test, and is modest about it all.
“I do what chaplains do,” Trimble said, who preached as a Free Will Baptist for 20 years before joining the Army. “If I can help commanders and first sergeants help soldiers by working with them and supporting their efforts, then it is beneficial to all of us.”
Trimble strives to remain relevant for soldiers. He sees his role in the chaplain corps as both providing religious support for the soldiers and as a guy who is bringing people together outside of the job.
“Connecting donors with the soldiers is just a fun way to minister,” Trimble said. “I think a chaplain has to look for a place to become relevant. If you just sit and study all day long, you’re not very relevant.
“I have to divide my time between studying and spending time with the soldiers - whether in counseling or ministering or just talking.”
For the Gunfighters’ chain of command, Trimble is more than just as a chaplain. Maj. Lee Robinson, the executive officer, knows Trimble works for the unit and not himself.
“He’s a ‘soldier’s soldier,’ and if he sees a need, he fills it; whether it is in the chaplain lane or not.” Robinson said. “He got the tent heaters working at the National Training Center during our predeployment training and he’s certified air assault loads for missions here in Afghanistan.”
Trimble also earned the Financial Peace University teaching qualification to help soldiers with finances while deployed.
“Nine times out ten, when the chaplain’s door is closed he is listening to and counseling soldiers or leaders,” Robinson said. “We would certainly not be as successful a unit without him.”
The Gunfighters also benefited from Trimble’s relationship expertise during predeployment training at Fort Riley.
Recently divorced, Spc. Michael Daunais with Company E, 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, changed his mind on ending his relationship with his new girlfriend after hearing Trimble’s comments.
“He is concise and informative regarding relationships; a professor-type who uses good examples from his own relationship experience with his wife,” Daunais said. “My girlfriend and I use the advice and tips I learned on marriage deployment stress in our relationship, which has helped us grow closer and continue being together.
“He is very approachable, always super friendly, and takes time to say hi and ask how you are doing.”
Keeping with the mantra of the chaplain corps, “Bringing God to soldiers and soldiers to God,” Trimble keeps a grueling Sunday schedule – typically performing or participating in seven or more services.
From the chapel to the tactical operations center to the forward air refueling point, Trimble goes to the soldiers and gives them the opportunity to exercise their faith at the easiest level possible.
“I am more interested in every individual being what God wants them to be,” Trimble said. “I think most people want a relationship with God, and God provides them a relationship on their level, but many times the clergy or people of the faith have kind of kept that at bay and made it too difficult.”
Most of the forward operating bases in Afghanistan are small in size and unable to offer many of the capabilities of a large base like Kandahar Airfield. Chaplains are an integral part of soldiers in remote areas having a sense of family and community connection amongst their unit members – something that can be lacking in a deployment environment.
The senior chaplain of the brigade, Maj. Josh Gilliam, agrees.
“I think Kevin provides for his soldiers very well,” Gilliam said. “He is an incredible administrator with ability to think in terms of creating systems, and he finds ways to energize systems already in place.”
Chaplains are obligated to, and constitutionally charged with, providing or performing services to soldiers no matter their faith beliefs, Gilliam said.
“Some chaplains are good counselors, others are good preachers or have great ministry of presence,” Gilliam said. “Kevin is the whole package, and like many chaplains, the CAB and the Army are lucky to have him in uniform, serving soldiers and mentoring others on how we can serve our soldiers better.”
Trimble stays humble about his contribution to the fight and the support given to soldiers through his efforts.
“I am a simple, every day practical person, and I think that’s a welcome idea for soldiers,” Trimble said.