Chaplains bring faith to remote locations

Multi-National Division Baghdad
Courtesy Story

Date: 12.29.2009
Posted: 12.29.2009 00:14
News ID: 43216
Chaplains Bring Faith to Remote Locations

By Sgt. Samantha Beuterbaugh

BAGHDAD — Chaplains journeyed to secluded locations Christmas Day to provide Soldiers with greatly desired worship services.

Lt. Col. Barbara Sherer, chaplain, of the 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division — Baghdad, and Maj. Tyson Wood, chaplain, of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cav. Div., traveled to Joint Service Station's Suj and Four Corners as well as Contingency Operating Location Salie, to offer Soldiers a chance to attend either a Protestant or a Catholic service.

It was the intent of Maj. Gen. Daniel Bolger, commanding general of MND-B, to bring Christmas worship services to areas that hadn't been visited in a while, said Sherer.

"Our worship services were designed to let [the Soldiers] celebrate some of their traditions," said Sherer, "and remind [the Soldiers] that they have an Army family that cares about them."

"I'm touched by the degree of support of the command, and fellow Soldiers, which enables them to practice their faith," said Wood.

Many Soldiers deployed at secluded locations don't have these services provided on a weekly, or sometimes even a monthly, basis. There are 38 MND-B chaplains, most of whom are Protestant ministers from various denominations, and only three Catholic priests, said Sherer.

The chaplains do rotations to various locations, but there are not enough for frequent visits to each Joint Service Station and Contingency Operating Location.

Wood said he travels three to four days a week to provide Soldiers with Catholic services at more isolated locations.

"JSSs are not often hit because there aren't enough priests, and we have to figure out what the greatest troop concentration and op-tempo is," said Wood.

In a testament to how important these services are, several Soldiers scraped together a convoy from Cache South to partake in the worship services held at JSS Four Corners. "Those [Soldiers] felt it important enough to chance a ground movement to worship," said Wood.

"It is a great feeling to visit others and remind them that even though they are thousands of miles from home," said Sherer, "they are not alone."

Both chaplains felt good about the attendance. Although advertisement and planning was provided well in advance for the services, mission considerations are always something that could potentially hinder a Soldier from attending at the last minute, said Sherer.

Wood confirms that whether it's two or three or one hundred, "[The Soldiers] are what I came to Iraq for."

"In the end, if even one Soldier was reached," said Sherer, speaking of the mission's success, "then it was worth it."