News Icon

News: Service members affirm their faith in Afghanistan

Story by Staff Sgt. Joe ArmasSmall RSS IconSubscriptions Icon

Service members affirm their faith in Afghanistan Sgt. 1st Class Joe Armas

Spc. Todd Phinney, an aircraft powertrain repairer assigned to Company D, Task Force Lobos, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, originally from Sheffield, Pa., prepares to take a backward plunge into a tub of water during his baptism inside the Camp Marmal Chapel, Nov. 27.

CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan -- In an affirmation of faith, five service members stationed here were baptized, Nov. 27, at the Camp Marmal Chapel.

Snow-capped mountains provided the backdrop for a frigid late November morning, as inside the chapel, warmth was garnered by a congregation of worshipers who witnessed the five service members publicly proclaim their belief in a higher power.

At the conclusion of the service, each service member was baptized individually, taking a backward plunge into a tub of water that was placed inside the chapel.

“This [the baptism] is only the beginning of their spiritual journey,” said Maj. Xuan Tran, chaplain, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, originally from Vietnam.

The symbolic gesture of a water baptism is about making a total commitment to Jesus Christ and seeking redemption for one’s sins, added Tran.

Spc. Todd Phinney, who was baptized on this day, said he turned to faith because he needed to fill a void in his life.

“This is something that I felt I needed to do to become complete as a person,” said Phinney, who is a powertrain repairer assigned to Company D, Task Force Lobos, 1st ACB, originally from Sheffield, Pa.

This sentiment was echoed by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Santiago Torres, a tactical operations officer, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st ACB, originally from New York, who also baptized on this day.

“I’ve gone through life not knowing if I was spiritually fulfilled,” said Torres. “I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the importance of faith, and I realized that following the path of Jesus Christ helps me to be a better person.”

Both soldiers agreed that the timing of the baptism was ideal.

“I wanted to reconfirm my dedication to God, and this was an opportune time to do so,” said Torres.

“I couldn’t think of a better time or a better way to do this than right now here in Afghanistan,” added Phinney. “This moment has brought me closer to God, and I think it’s going to have a big impact in my life.”

Faith has made a big impact in the life of another soldier who made the decision to be baptized here in Afghanistan.

“Faith serves as a guide that helps me live my life the way I want to,” said 2nd Lt. Stephanie Judd, executive officer, Company C, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st ACB, originally from Cartersville, Ga.

Judd said her decision to be baptized was a personal one, and credits her faith as a key factor that has helped her endure the stresses of a deployment.

“I wouldn’t be as upbeat and positive if it wasn’t for my belief in God,” she said.

As for the ceremony, Tran said it was just one example of how service members deployed in a combat zone, thousands of miles away from the United States are able to exercise the first amendment rights of the Constitution they vowed to defend.

Finally, Tran talked about the importance of religious freedom for troopers here in Afghanistan.

Freedom to worship without persecution is a cornerstone in our democracy, said Tran. It is part of what these soldiers are fighting for.

Connected Media
ImagesService members...
Maj. Xuan Tran, chaplain, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st...
ImagesService members...
Second Lt. Stephanie Judd, executive officer, Company C,...
ImagesService members...
Senior Airman Ebo Yankson, originally from Ghana, is...
ImagesService members...
Pfc. Joseph Partney, a combat medic assigned to the...
ImagesService members...
Spc. Todd Phinney, an aircraft powertrain repairer...

Web Views

Podcast Hits

Public Domain Mark
This work, Service members affirm their faith in Afghanistan, by SFC Joe Armas, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:11.28.2011

Date Posted:11.28.2011 07:58

Location:CAMP MARMAL, AFGlobe

More Like This

  • In an oath, members of the military affirm their commitment to the Constitution of the United States, the President and ultimately,
each other. By attesting their true faith and allegiance to those appointed over them, they enter a family of patriots and comrades-in-arms.
  • Military family members confirm their faith at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel, March 15, during a sacrament held by Bishop Neal Buckon, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. The Confirmation establishes young adults as full-fledged members of the faith or reconfirms that faith in adults who have strayed from the church.
  • The soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, along with members of the coalition here at Camp Marmal, paused from their normal routines to reflect on the events of Sept. 11 with a prayer breakfast on the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
  • Soldiers and civilians at Camp Marmal came together for the dedication ceremony of the new Camp Marmal Chapel, Sept. 25.


  • Army
  • Marines
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • National Guard




  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Flickr