Outside of combat, it is not all that often when a Soldier in a unit dies. The exceptions are unfortunate, but demand that the unit properly and respectfully honor that Soldier. The options for the unit are essentially two: a Memorial Service or a Memorial Ceremony. The difference in the two are basically that a Memorial Service is religious in nature, while a Memorial Ceremony is patriotic in nature. A Memorial Service, being a religious service, cannot be required attendance for Soldiers, but since a Memorial Ceremony is basically patriotic (though with religious elements) the Soldiers of the unit can be required to attend, though in most circumstances the majority of the unit will want to be a part of the ceremony honoring their fallen comrade even when not required.
This week, a battalion in my brigade had the opportunity to honor a Soldier who was involved in an automobile accident. This Soldier was proficient and well-liked, so his loss was deeply felt by the unit, especially those in the deceased Soldier’s section. The Memorial Ceremony was an opportunity not only to honor the Soldier who died but also to give an opportunity for the unit to grieve together and begin to heal from their loss.
Here are some pictures from the Memorial Ceremony:
Following the “Last Roll Call,” the Honor Guard firing squad provides a 21-gun salute.
Upon completion of the 21-gun salute, the bugler plays Taps, out of sight of those in the ceremony, but where he can be heard by them. This isn’t the best of videos, but it shows the honor rendered to the fallen Soldier. This bugler did an excellent job.
While Memorial Ceremonies are not usually attended by family members, sometimes they are. This ceremony had the Soldier’s father in attendance. A video of the ceremony will also be sent to the other family members as a remembrance of the Soldiers honorable service and to show how the unit honored that service and the memory of the Soldier.
Memorial Ceremonies and Services are not only an effort to honor the fallen Soldier but also to provide an opportunity for the unit -often the Soldier’s closest friends- to remember, memorialize and honor their friend and comrade. Additionally, they give an opportunity for those Soldiers to grieve their loss and begin to heal and recover. This ceremony, with the remembrances shared by the unit leadership and friends and the message by the chaplain, went a long way toward bringing this healing to the unit’s Soldiers.
The U.S. forces in Korea have a large number of KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to U.S. Army) Soldiers working with us. The chaplain’s offices often have a KATUSA assigned to them. In my brigade, we have a KATUSA as part of the BDE UMT and one of our battalions also has a KATUSA. These KATUSAs are doing a 2-year tour of duty with about 18 months of it on assignment with us. They receive their rank based on time-in-service. My KATUSA was recently promoted to corporal and the battalion KATUSA was just promoted to sergeant. To help him celebrate his promotion, we went to Dino Prime Meat Bar in Pyeongtaek, a great meat buffet. Here’s some pictures:
One of the side benefits of “deployment” is being able to see and experience different countries and cultures. Another “plus” for me is getting to interact with nationals who are in my denomination in another country. I had that opportunity yesterday when I was able to attend the district assembly of the Korea National District of the Church of the Nazarene at Korea Nazarene University (KNU) in Cheonan, South Korea. District assemblies are held annually by each district in the Church of the Nazarene and is presided over by one of the 6 general superintendents. This year, the presiding general superintendent for Korea was David W. Graves, who I already know from several assemblies and other services in the U.S. Dr. Graves and I have a further connection in that his father (Harold Graves) was the District Superintendent on the Southwestern Ohio District where I grew up and received my first District Minister’s License.
Attending the district assembly and experiencing the welcome and hospitality given me was an extreme honor and at the same time humbling. By the way I was treated, one would think that I was really “somebody” while I was the one being blessed and encouraged!
To drive to Cheonan, the location of KNU, would take over 2 hours, so I took the Intercity Train Express (ITX) from Yongsan Station. The public transportation in Korea is unbelievable. You can get just about anywhere in Korea in some combination of train, subway or bus, not to mention the thousands of taxis always available about anywhere you are. Depending on the station you use, you can get a Korea Train Express (KTX) from Seoul to Cheonan that takes just about 30 minutes and 20,000 won or an ITX that takes about an hour for just 9,000 won. The subway is much cheaper, but also makes a lot of stops so takes a lot longer. The subway is often better than driving, but may not be a time-saver. Once I arrived at the Cheonan Station, I was going to take a taxi to KNU but my first Korean national/Nazarene pastor friend offered to arrange for a pastor in Cheonan to pick me up at the station which saved me some time and a few thousand won.
When we arrived at KNU, I expected to be directed to the auditorium where the assembly would be taking place and grab a seat in the back, but instead I was escorted to a conference room where the district leaders and other VIPs were gathering awaiting the arrival of the General Superintendent and start of the district assembly. Once everyone had arrived, we were all led to the auditorium where I was given a seat up front as the pre-service singing had already begun.
Once I was moved to a better seat (with assembly VIPs) and given headphones to hear the interpretation, the service was underway. I’ll post most of the other pictures with brief descriptions under each one.
The KNU Cafeteria where I, as part of the GS entourage, was provided lunch.
The lunch we were given at the KNU Cafeteria. Some of it was good…some of it requires an acquired taste. The soup was yet to come but was way too hot for me to eat.
Following dinner with Dr. & Mrs. Graves, Mark Louw (the Asia-Pacific Regional Director) & his wife and daughter and several district leaders, at a really good western-style restaurant (I was really ready for a good steak!) we returned to KNU for the ordination service where 14 ministers were ordained and 1 was recognized from another denomination. Beyond the thrill of being part of a service of Nazarenes in a country so distant from mine, the joy of watching future leaders of the International Church of the Nazarene enter into the ordained ministry was great. Here are some pictures from the this night.
Old & New Friends
I think that I was a bit of a novelty at the district assembly, not only as an American but as an Army chaplain. Several people asked to have a picture taken with them and I asked a few, too. Below are some of those pictures with a bit of description (as best as I can remember).
(Sort of) Prepared Remarks
Preachers, ministers and chaplains are always ready to speak when asked to. When I’m in a situation when I think I might be called upon to bring greetings or to report, I have in mind an idea of what I might say. This day was no different. Not expecting to be asked to share, but wanting to be ready just in case (I kept being surprised all day), I had this in mind to say:
It is my honor to represent the Church of the Nazarene as a chaplain in the United States Army.
It is my privilege to serve the Army and my church in the Land of the Morning Calm.
It is my joy to be here today with fellow Nazarenes, brothers and sisters in Christ.
While we do not share a common language or culture, we share a common Savior and Lord. I am truly blessed to be with you here today.
I’ve finally about got my office set up for my stay in Korea. I’ve unpacked my books, arranged my furniture and desk and hung some pictures. It’s a good space. The Unit Ministry Team (Chaplain & Chaplain Assistant, and in Korea a KATUSA) actually has a suite because of the work that we do. There’s a comfortable place for a few people to sit, along with books and Bibles they can take with them. The chaplain assistant has an office while the KATUSA has a desk by the door, kind of like a “receptionist.” Then I have my office for work, study and counselling. We try to make it an inviting place.
My office has a window which opens to a school. Most every day I hear the children out playing on the playground…sure, I won’t miss my kids! But it is actually nice to hear cheerful noises rather than what the military often offers!
O.K, it wasn’t really my first prayer, but my first public prayer in my first ceremony in this assignment since I arrived in Korea.
Praying at ceremonies is the chaplain’s “bread and butter.” It is one of the things that we’re always expected to do, and it always happens without anyone giving it much thought. In fact, seldom is there a picture found, among the dozens often taken of the various ceremonies, that includes the chaplain! But that’s OK, we don’t do it for the glory or to be in the limelight, but to represent the presence of God and ask for his blessing upon the ceremony and the participants. (But if you look close in the picture, you can see my right arm and leg!).
I had the opportunity to pray today at the brigade’s Headquarters & Headquarter’s Company (HHC) change of command ceremony. Change of Command Ceremonies take place whenever one commander leaves and another arrives and assumes command. It is an Army tradition that reflects the heritage of the military and is full of traditional elements, including a prayer (sometimes two). I seldom get nervous before ceremonies or events that I am a part of but I wanted (and always want) to do a good job, representing God, the Chaplain Corps and my denomination. The first one after arriving at a unit is often the most important since it’s the first time my commander, and others in the unit, will see and hear me do what I do, so the pressure is on to do a good job. I do realize, however, that I’m not praying to any of them and the effectiveness of my prayer is not dependent on their approval or satisfaction, but at the same time, they recognize the chaplain’s prayer as representative of one of the things the chaplain brings to the unit.
My prayer went something like this:
Most Gracious Heavenly Father,
Thank you for this day and for this occasion that brings us together which reminds us not only of the strength of our military but also the peace and freedoms it preserves, not only in our country but in our host country of South Korea and in fact, around the world.
Thank you for Captain [outgoing commander], for his commitment to the unit’s mission and Soldiers over this past year. Continue to be with him as he moves on to his next assignment.
I also ask that you will add to what Captain [incoming commander] brings to the unit everything that she needs to lead with wisdom, courage and integrity as she assumes command.
Finally Lord, I pray that you will bless this time with your presence and that what we do here today will be a blessing to you.
You have come to the blog about my “deployment” to Korea (thanks for stopping by, by the way!). This page, with posts being in “real time,” will be in the normal blog format, that is the most recent post will be on top (directly below this one). However, since this “deployment” is complete, it will make better sense to view the posts in actual chronological order. To see them in order, follow this link, other wise just scroll down and you’ll see the last post first and so on. Alternatively, you can navigate to older posts through the “archive” or “recent posts” widgets on the right side of the page. You can also jump to specific categories (Food & Drink, History, Life & Family, Military, Ministry, Travel & Siteseeing) by using the links on the “categories” widget.