Battalion Memorial Ceremony

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:

Prior to the ceremony, the participants rehearse the service to ensure a near-flawless ceremony. At the podium is the battalion chaplain (photo by Daryl Densford).
Prior to the ceremony, the participants have several rehearsals to ensure a near-flawless ceremony. At the podium is the battalion chaplain.
The Memorial Stand is set with a rifle, helmet, boots and dog tags. The Soldiers' final award and photo are also on display (photo by Daryl Densford)
The Memorial Stand is set with a rifle, helmet, boots and dog tags. The Soldiers’ final award and photo are also on display.
A small display was set up at the rear of the auditorium.
A small display was set up at the rear of the auditorium.
The FRG set up a hospitality room for the father and close friends.
The FRG provided a hospitality room for the father and close friends.
There was a good turnout from the unit as well as from sister units. There was also great support by chaplains and chaplain assistants from this post and others. At the podium is the battalion commander.
There was a good turnout from the unit as well as from sister units. There was also great support by chaplains and chaplain assistants from this post and others. At the podium in this picture is the battalion commander, the first of several of the Soldier’s leaders and friends who eulogized the deceased Soldier.
The battalion chaplain shares a message of hope.
The battalion chaplain shares a message of hope.

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.

At the end of the ceremony, participants and attendees have the opportunity to offer respects and render honors for the fallen Soldier at the Memorial Stand.
At the end of the ceremony, participants and attendees have the opportunity to offer respects and render honors for the fallen Soldier at the Memorial Stand.
Respects are paid in different ways. Most salute, some give coins, others offer a prayer.
Respects are paid in different ways. Most salute, some give coins, others offer a prayer.
The rank of the deceased and those who honor him/her are irrelevant. Here a Command Sergeant Major, Colonel and Major General render honors to the fallen Private First Class.
The rank of the deceased and those who honor him/her are irrelevant. Here a Command Sergeant Major, Colonel and Major General render honors to the fallen Private First Class.
By the time everyone had rendered honors, there was quite a collection of coins, patches and notes that will be send to the Soldiers next-of-kin.
By the time everyone had rendered honors, there was quite a collection of coins, patches and notes that will be sent to the Soldiers next-of-kin.

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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.

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KATUSA Promotion Recognition

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:

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Dino Prime Meat Bar
Dino Prime Meat Bar in Pyeongtaek.

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Dino Prime Meat Bar
A large assortment of meats are in a refrigerated case where you select what you want then take to your table to cook.

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Dino Prime Meat BAr
A variety of raw cuts of beef and pork, some marinated (no dinosaur, though). All of it looks good (at least if you’re a carnivore)!

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Dino Prime Meat Bar
Each table has it’s own grill (and exhaust flue) and you’re brought a variety of “sides” to eat with your meat.

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Dino Prime Meat Bar
This particular Dino only has seating on the floor…not very comfortable for old guys like me! This is some of my chaplains and assistants.

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Dino Prime Meat Bar
Here’s another of my chaplains and 3 KATUSAs (also on the floor!).

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KATUSA Promotion
I gave the newly-promoted KATUSA a choice of a cross to wear around his neck or a cross on a key chain (both made and donated by my nephew).

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KATUSA Promotion
He chose the one with the leather string to wear so I “officially” presented it to him as congratulations for his promotion.

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Pyeongtaek street
Here’s a very Korean-looking street of Pyeongtaek on the way to Dino Prime Meat Bar

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Korean Nazarene District Assembly & Ordination Service

District Assembly

Korea Nazarene University
One of the buildings of KNU.

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!

Korea ITX train
Traveling on the ITX to KNU at Cheonan.

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.

Korea National District Assembly 2016When 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.

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Representatives from several sister holiness denominations attended and shared greetings and encouragement to the assembly.
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The head of the Union of Korean Churches shared greetings and encouragement to the assembly.
Dr. David W. Graves
General Superintendent, Dr. David Graves, addresses the assembly with the aid of an interpreter.
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The current (out-going) district superintendent opening the assembly with prayer.
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Special music provided by a woman in Korean traditional dress
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It was a full house in the assembly hall.
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Voting for the district superintendent, using 6 voting booths located around the auditorium…
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…then putting the ballots in sealed ballot boxes which were taken to the counting room by the board of tellers.
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The introduction of the newly-elected district superintendent (right).
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Retiring pastors recognized for their years of ministry.
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Pastors recognized for 30 years of ministry.
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Pastors of the 2 churches officially organized this year.
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Many reports were given by the zone leaders, pastors and district directors. This is John Eun Yup Kim, the District SDMI Director (and the 1st Korean national I became friends with when I arrived in Korea). I later found out that this was his 8th and final report to the District Assembly as the District SDMI Director. The final words of his report were, “it’s always morning in the Church of the Nazarene.”
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Pastor Kim recognizing Sunday School teachers for multiple years of service.
The District & General Superintendents thanked with flowers.
The District & General Superintendents thanked with flowers.
Korea Christian Television Service covered the district assembly. Here they are interviewing the newly-elected district superintendent.
Korea Christian Television Service covered the district assembly. Here they are interviewing the newly-elected district superintendent.
Not sure about these flower arrangements, but there were several at the front of the auditorium (2 of the voting booths are on the left).
Not sure about these flower arrangements or what they say, but there were several at the front of the auditorium (2 of the voting booths are on the left).

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Ordination Service

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.

The program for the ordination service. I could just read a very little bit of it.
The program for the ordination service. I could just read a very little bit of it.
Before the service, the GS met with the ordinands and their spouses. His words of encouragement to them also encouraged and inspired me!
Before the service, the GS met with the ordinands and their spouses. His words of encouragement to them also encouraged and inspired me!
Before moving to the auditorium where the ordination service was held, the ordinands, their spouses (and some of their children) and the district and denominational leaders post for a picture. The District Secretary invited me to be in the picture, but that would have been too much!
Before moving to the auditorium where the ordination service was held, the ordinands, their spouses (and some of their children) and the district and denominational leaders posed for a picture. Notice that many of the spouses wore traditional Korean dress.
Each of the ordinands and their spouses were introduced to the gathered assembly.
Each of the ordinands and their spouses were introduced to the gathered assembly.
The ordinands were asked to stand and were given a charge from Dr. Graves.
The ordinands were asked to stand and were given a charge from Dr. Graves.
After the ordinands, the spouses stood while given a moving charge and inspiration to minister along side their spouses.
After the ordinands, the spouses stood while given a moving charge and inspiration to minister along side their spouses.
The district superintendent recognized and prayed for the ministers receiving the District Minister's LIcenses.
The district superintendent recognized and prayed for the ministers receiving their District Minister’s LIcenses.
One by one, the ordiands and their spouses knelt on the platform, were prayed for, and ordained by Dr. Graves as the elders of the district laid hands on them. This is one of the most moving parts of the service and most of the ordinands and their spouses were noticeably moved.
One by one, the ordiands and their spouses knelt on the platform, were prayed for, and ordained by Dr. Graves as the elders of the district laid hands on them. This is one of the most moving parts of the service and most of the ordinands and their spouses stood up, noticeably moved.
Many family members and friends attended the service.
Many family members and friends attended the service.
After all were ordained, they all came up to the platform and received the ordination certificates and stoles.
After all were ordained, they all came up to the platform and received their ordination certificates and stoles.
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The district superintendent prayed a final prayer for the newly ordained ministers and their spouses.
After the service ended, family members and friends swarmed the platform to offer congratulations, flowers and other gifts.
After the service ended, family members and friends swarmed the platform to offer congratulations, flowers and other gifts…and to take more pictures.

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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).

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I already mentioned my relationship with Dr. Graves. It was great to see him again!
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In this picture is Pastor Tak Kyung Sung, pastor of the Eoulrim church (right). He invited me to come to his church to speak. Next to him (2nd from right) is Mark Louw, the Asia-Pacific Regional Director for the Church of the Nazarene. On the left is Bashir Gill Asim, from Pakistan, who works at KNU and attends Pastor Tak’s church. He told me he’ll be the interpreter when I come to speak.
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This is Pastor Chang Sun Hwang. He is one of the pastors whose church was officially organized this year and is the one who picked me up from the Cheonan train station.
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Kye-Gwan Lee is the Assistant to the President of KNU.
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This is a picture of me and Pastor John Eun Yup Kim when we first met for coffee soon after I got to Korea. I wish I would have gotten a picture with him the day of the district assembly (we were dressed nicer!). He did so much to help me get there (and home) and took care of me throughout the day along with Dr. Graves and Rev. Louw and their families. I’m really glad we met!

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(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.

Kamsahamnida!

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Office Space

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!

Here are a few pictures:

Building 6000
Here’s our brigade headquarters from Google Maps. (I’m surprised I haven’t taken a picture of it yet!) It’s a big 6-story building that I heard use to be a jail though I don’t know if that’s true or not.
Building 6000
Our building has quite a view from the roof. Of course, this isn’t one of the good ones but of some of the post.
Brigade UMT office-meeting room
Here’s are “meeting room.” Very comfortable couches and lots of give-a-way books and Bibles. (That black office chair in the corner is trash, they just haven’t taken it out yet. Please overlook it!)
Brigade UMT Office-Chaplain Assistant
This is the chaplain assistant’s office, just as you walk in our door.
Brigade UMT office-KATUSA
Just inside our main door and to the left is our KATUSA’s desk. My office is just beyond.
Brigade UMT office-chaplain's desk
My office. The mess on the desk is evidence of a busy day!
Brigade UMT office-library
It’s nice to have a few of my books with me!
Brigade UMT office-seating
And, a place to sit with Soldiers and either visit or counsel. On the walls are pictures I had enlarged of worship and chaplain ministry during the Korean War.

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First Prayer

HHC-501st-MI-CoC
The “official party” of the Change of Command ceremony included the brigade commander (center), the outgoing HHC commander (left) and the incoming HHC commander (right).

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.

In your name I pray, Amen.

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Korea Deployment Blog

Flag of the Republic of KoreaYou 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 & DrinkHistoryLife & FamilyMilitaryMinistryTravel & Siteseeing) by using the links on the “categories” widget.

View Korea blog in chronological order by clicking here (preferred)…

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