News: Every little bit helps: A chaplain’s unwavering dedication to his soldiers
Story by Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus
KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Soldiers of the 501st Brigade Support Battalion take an extra step prior to conducting patrols.
Up to three times a day, Chaplain (Capt.) Ronnie Irwin, a native of Clinton, Miss., attends every convoy brief to deliver a prayer for the soldiers preparing to conduct their missions.
“I pray for all of the convoys before they roll out,” said Irwin. “I meet with them at the convoy brief and they always give me an opportunity to pray for them.”
Irwin, who, like many deployed soldiers, works upwards of 18 hours a day, has attended nearly every convoy brief at FOB Walton since he arrived.
“These are my soldiers,” said Irwin. “I see that it reminds them of God’s presence as they go outside the wire. I have soldiers that come to me and tell of situations that they’ve averted, dangers that they’ve been able to avoid.”
Many of these soldiers credit these aversions to the chaplain’s pre-convoy prayer.
“A lot of them attribute it to the fact that they’ve been prayed for before they go out,” said Irwin.
The chaplain’s office does more than just provide prayer for soldiers, though. They also provide overall religious support for the FOB, consisting of nearly 1,800 soldiers.
“We provide worship study opportunities, bible study opportunities and we also run a troop store,” said Irwin.
The troop store has proven to be a valuable commodity for the soldiers at Walton, seeing on average 100 soldiers a day.
“We get several care packages in a week and we let them come through and utilize it for whatever they need,” said Spc. Samantha Lewis, the chaplain’s assistant for 501st BSB, and a native of Pleasantville, Penn. “We have things such as hygiene products, Girl Scout cookies, we have all sorts of snacks and things of that nature.”