News: JB MDL community gathers for National Prayer Breakfast
Story by Airman 1st Class Dennis Sloan
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst community members gathered at Tommy B's Community Activities Center, March 6, for the National Prayer Breakfast.
Col. Conrado Navarro, command chaplain for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, expanded on this year's theme, "If we only knew," as the guest speaker.
The National Prayer Breakfast, formerly known as the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, dates back to 1942. Leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives met weekly to pray out of concern for the United States' involvement in World War II.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower initiated the first official Presidential Prayer Breakfast in 1953. The name of the breakfast was changed from Presidential Prayer Breakfast to National Prayer Breakfast in 1970.
The JB MDL National Prayer Breakfast began with the Chico Bradley and Gospel Choir performed the national anthem.
"It is great to be able to be a part of this year's National Prayer Breakfast," said Chico Bradley, choir director. "It is an honor to sing the national anthem for all of the service members and their families."
Col. Kenneth Beale, Army Support Activity Dix command chaplain, gave the invocation asking God to bless the food and all the public servants in attendance.
The center was filled with members from every branch of service as well as their families and DOD employed civilians.
"It is important for us to gather and remember what this country was founded on and renew our faith in those values," said Col. Chris Papaj, Marine Aircraft Group 49 commanding officer.
While attendees finished their breakfast meal, service members read passages and scriptures from respective religious denominations to include: Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Islamic faiths.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Shakizzie Riddick, 87th Air Base Wing Chapel religious programs specialist, delivered the Prayer for our National Leaders.
"I am really excited to be a part of this years National Prayer Breakfast," said Riddick.
"It's really nice to see all of the chaplains and chaplain staff gather this morning."
Col. John Wood, JB MDL commander, provided brief remarks to the audience before introducing the guest speaker, Navarro.
"I was not quite sure how to introduce our guest speaker today," said Wood. "I didn't know if I should introduce him as Chaplain Navarro, Conrado or colonel After our two families had dinner together last night - and knowing he has served with a tradition of valor - I am honored to introduce our guest speaker as my friend."
Navarro was born in Cuba and at the age of seven moved to New Jersey where he spent the majority of his youth.
He began his military career as a chaplain's assistant in the Marine Corps. He was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1979. He joined the Air Force as a chaplain in 1986.
His service providing testament to his opening statement, "What a great country we serve."
Navarro spoke about his career after thanking the community and base leadership for inviting him to be the guest speaker for this prayer breakfast.
"I have served at several bases and commands and I can say I have never asked to go to a certain base or assignment," said Navarro. "I have always allowed the lord to guide me and send me where I need to be."
Navarro's previous assignment was as command chaplain for the U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command.
"What I have learned throughout my career is that not all assignments are exactly what you are looking for, but rather what you need," said Navarro. "I have also learned that if you are stationed somewhere you need to interact with the community and be a part of the base, because if you are not where you are right now, you are nowhere."
Navarro ensures that DOD personnel have the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right of religious freedom for a spiritually resilient force.
"I want to finish by saying that all of you here at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst need to get involved in this community, because if you don't you are just biding time, not spending it enjoying life," said Navarro. "If we only knew what the lord had in store for us we would live life to the fullest."
Col. Timothy Wagoner, JB MDL installation chaplain, presented a plaque with all of the group commander coins on it to Navarro for coming here as the guest speaker.
"You've convinced us that God is with us today," said Wagoner.
Lt. Col. Scott Riedel, 99th Regional Support Command deputy chaplain, gave the benediction concluding the breakfast.