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    Hellfighter Chaplain Brings Presence to Guard Soldiers, Families

    Hellfighter Chaplain Brings Presence to Guard Soldiers, Families

    Photo By Michael O'Halloran | New York Army National Guard Chaplain (Maj.) James Kim, delivers an invocation to...... read more read more

    HARLEM, NY, UNITED STATES

    10.15.2018

    Story by Cpl. Nnaemeka Onyeagwa 

    New York National Guard

    CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – The call came through early in the morning of July 21, 2018 for New York Army National Guard Chaplain (Maj.) James Kim. A Soldier had died in an accident during his unit annual training.

    Even for traditional Citizen Soldiers, the process of supporting Soldiers, their unit and their family during a time of crisis begins with a unit chaplain.

    For Kim, the chaplain for the National Guard’s 369th Sustainment Brigade, he knew immediately that he had to notify next-of-kin.

    “Gaining the trust of the family from the beginning is key to the long process of doing what we can for the family, emotionally and spiritually,” Kim said. “The next step is being there and assisting with what we can offer as a military community.”

    For Chaplain Kim, that next-of-kin notification was a mission that hit close to home. In September 2012, his brother, U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Kim, an avionics mechanic serving with the Army National Guard in their home state of California, committed suicide.

    Kim and his wife had just moved to New York that summer, leaving behind his brother and anybody else they knew back in California where they had lived almost their entire lives.

    The tragedy followed only two months after learning Kim’s father had been diagnosed of stage IV stomach cancer.

    Having such a rough start in New York, Kim explained that he and his wife relied on faith and their military family. This was a very difficult time for them – especially being far away from familiar faces.

    “My experiences helped me bring light and hope to others and to do God’s bidding,” Kim explained. “Motivation comes from finding strength inside yourself, instead of being broken by events one cannot control.”

    Chaplain Kim’s service in the ministry followed a unique path, but a familiar one.

    Originally joining the California Army National Guard in 2001 as a finance Soldier, two years later Kim reclassified as an ammunition specialist for an overseas deployment and achieved the rank of sergeant. But he wanted more, Kim explained.

    So after graduating from Officer Candidate School in 2006, Kim became a Military Intelligence lieutenant.

    Because of his fluency in the Korean language as the child of Korean immigrants, and his time living in Korea, he worked in the Guard’s Linguist Intelligence Battalion.

    All of these experiences, Kim said, shaped his character as a chaplain.

    “It’s easier to relate with Soldiers when you been on various sides in the military,” he said.

    Kim made his commitment to serve his faith in 2009, and became an Army chaplain in September of that year. He has deployed twice since then as a chaplain for troops overseas.

    Three months before his last deployment with the 369th Sustainment Brigade in June 2016, Kim’s father succumbed to cancer. He said the thought of staying back crossed his mind, but he was determined to deploy with his Soldiers.

    “I could not leave my 369th family to go over 10,000 miles from home for nine months without quality spiritual representation,” Kim said. “As long as you let God into your life you will be surprised, as long as your heart is in the right place you can achieve.”

    “Kim was one of the most approachable people on post,” said Capt. Seun Ogunkoya, the brigade’s branch chief for operational contracting. “Even if you were not religious he ensured you could come to him, that morale was kept high, Soldiers stayed motivated, and we could all do our jobs.”

    Kim credits this journey in life and his long career in the Army for helping him relate with all Soldiers, of all faiths and all backgrounds.

    “Chaplain Kim and his unit ministry were instrumental during 369th deployment, said 1st Sgt. Tracy-Ann Stewart of the brigade’s 133rd Composite Supply Company. “His familiar presence helped Soldiers with resilience, teamwork, and bringing that light hearted spirit.”

    His four years serving with the 369th has given him strong a connection with a lot of Soldiers. When most people see Kim they brighten up; most cannot help but be drawn toward him.

    “Now it seems like I know everyone and everyone knows me, and it’s all God.” Kim said. “I feel very blessed and fortunate to find my home with the historic 369th Harlem Hellfighters.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.15.2018
    Date Posted: 10.15.2018 15:58
    Story ID: 296463
    Location: HARLEM, NY, US 

    Web Views: 274
    Downloads: 0
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