NAVAL AIR FACILITY, ATSUGI, Japan - Members of the 126th Chaplains Office are assisting the U.S. Navy clergy here for two weeks.
An Illinois Air National Guard chaplain and a chaplain assistant are performing their annual training with the sister service while filling in for chapel staff members who are on leave or at training seminars.
Capt. Carlos Bohorquez, a chaplain with the 126th Air Refueling Wing located at Scott Air Force Base, is provided counseling and performing Catholic Mass services at The Chapel of the Good Shepherd. Master Sgt. Melissa Macke, a chaplain’s assistant, also with the 126, is providing administrative and chapel service support.
The Catholic Mass is especially important according to U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Dale Wellman, a religious program specialist with the chaplain’s office.
"We haven't had a Catholic priest here for two years, so Father Carlos is filling a vital spiritual role for our community. Many people were excited to hear he was coming," said Wellman.
U.S. Navy Lt. Wilking Jean, a staff chaplain assigned to Atsugi, says he sees a positive impact to having Borhorquez assist with counseling and workplace morale visits known in the Navy as “deckplate visits”.
"Sometimes, we see problems developing, so we try to pay more attention to those shops. Regular visits improve the situation," said Jean.
The two National Guardsmen are also getting involved with the local community. According to Macke, they've been invited to help with a weekly effort to feed the homeless in neighborhoods near the base.