News: Battle Chaps recognized for years of selfless service
Story by Cpl. David Bessey
PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. – Many Marines who know him call him Battle Chaps, a nickname bearing the respect earned from nearly two decades of selflessly serving with Marines. His calling of duty recently earned one Parris Island Navy chaplain recognition from his peers.
Navy Capt. Bryan Weaver, the depot’s command chaplain, was awarded this year’s John H. Craven Servant Leadership Award on July 18, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C., for being an exceptional chaplain that embodies the values and selfless dedication of the man for whom the award is named.
"Chaplain Weaver embodies servant leadership to our people and within our Chaplain Corps,” said Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, head of the Navy Chaplain Corps.“He is a trusted confidant and advisor at all levels and is known for his dedication, knowledge, mentorship and compassion. He authentically lives out our Chaplain Corps’ motto: 'Called to Serve,' and I was honored to present him the award."
Weaver, who has spent 19 of his 29 years of service with Marines, was overwhelmed to receive the presitigious award, which is peer nominated, reviewed by a committee and ultimately decided by the chief of chaplains.
“I was stunned. I’m honored and humbled,” said Weaver, a native of Roaring Spring, Pa. “The award symbolizes selfless service to the Marine Corps and Navy. It’s what I do, serve God and man.”
Navy chaplains help Marines, sailors and coast guardsman with whom they serve with their mental and spiritual health.
Weaver credits his success by providing a “ministry of presence” when attached to a unit, similar to what Craven did in World War II and Korea.
"Chaplain John Craven exemplified the very best of servant leadership as a chaplain. He served with and ministered to Marines during some of the most storied battles in Marine Corps history, including Iwo Jima and Inchon and during the height of the Vietnam War,” said Tidd. “He was a source of strength, comfort and refuge to all of his people--from privates to generals, seamen to admirals, over the course of his 30 years of ministry as a Navy chaplain.”
Weaver continues to teach those values to new chaplains who enter into military service. He has spent most of his career in the field or in combat zones alongside Marines. Weaver has also been Parris Island’s command chaplain since August 2013 and is in charge of supervising and mentoring chaplains in the Eastern Recruiting Region.
His peers say Weaver earned the respect of many just by showing his presence by sleeping in fighting holes and hiking difficult terrain with Marines around him and a proven leader.
“They need to see you. The best leaders are out and about,” said Weaver. “You need to be able to rough it out. I’m not afraid to pick up a shovel, and I’m not changing.”
Though humbled by the experience, Weaver can only think about continuing his work and helping others who need it.
“I’m just one beggar trying to tell another beggar where to find bread,” he said. “The bread of God.”