CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan - Sailors and Marines gathered at the Camp Leatherneck Chapel to celebrate the 237th birthday of the Navy Chaplains Corps, Nov. 28.
Established during 1775, the Navy Chaplains Corps is charged with many tasks to include providing religious ministry and support within their faith group, facilitating for the religious needs of those outside their faith group, and aiding the Marines, sailors and their families spiritually.
The ceremony began with a welcome speech by Lt. Cmdr. Beth Stallinga, Combat Logistics Regiment 15 chaplain, and the playing of the national anthem.
Marines, sailors and all present were attentive to the television and the podium as birthday messages from senior ranking members of the Marine Corps and Navy were read and played. Once the introductions and messages were complete, the keynote speaker was introduced and given time to address the audience and commend the Navy Chaplains Corps.
“Not only as a Marine but as a chaplain’s kid, I really appreciate the special role you have,” said Col. Michael Frazier, Force Fires and Effects coordinator for Regional Command (Southwest) and keynote speaker. “The calling you have as clergymen and women to come into the military and serve all the way from home.”
Chaplains have proven to be an asset to commands, with their service being valued for many different reasons.
“The value that you bring to the team is remarkable,” said Frazier. “As clergymen, as counselors, as team builders, advisors, as the moral compass, as the commander’s special adviser and also as friends. You guys bring an awful lot to the table.”
The RC (SW) chaplains continue to provide those services to the men and women they are currently deployed with in Afghanistan.
“For it means I’m serving God, and I’m serving my country,” said Cmdr. Michael D. Williams, Regimental Combat Team 7 chaplain. “I would not want to be any other place other than in combat with Marines and sailors. This is the highlight of my life, other than the marriage to my wife. It’s just phenomenal.”
The ceremony ended with the hymns of the Navy, Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard. As the notes belted through the loud speaker and the lyrics poured from the mouths of those who attended, the sense of pride and honor was felt throughout the room.
The Navy Chaplains Corps has provided religious and spiritual service to the organizations under its umbrella for 237 years and will continue to do so well into the future.