Chaplain jumps for love of God and country
August 27, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For most chaplains, being there to minister and advise soldiers is rewarding enough. For others like Capt. Jeff Bryan, chaplain for the 188th Brigade Support Battalion, 18th Fires Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, he likes to take his talents to the skies - something Bryan always wanted to do since he was a child growing up.
"When I was a kid, I read a lot of Time-Life books about the military and I've always been fascinated with paratroopers," said Bryan. "Seems like there's soldiers and then there are paratroopers who come from the sky, so I've always wanted to do that."
Bryan, from Atchison, Kan., had his chance in 1991 to go to Airborne School while serving as an enlisted soldier in the infantry but chose not to go. When he was a chaplain candidate in 2003, he "jumped" at the chance to go for it.
"The reasoning differed, as a chaplain I wanted to serve soldiers for God and now I get the best of both," said Bryan. "I get to serve God with the soldiers that come from the sky."
Bryan, who has been on 11 jumps feels that chaplains should be with soldiers no matter whether they are in the air because of the strong history the Chaplain Corps has with the history of the paratrooper.
"Absolutely (we should be with the paratroopers), in the early 1940s with the conception of paratrooper operations, chaplains were there for the initial battles in Italy and France and have been in every major airborne operation since Panama."
Bryan went on to say that it's critical for chaplains to be with paratroopers because you are not connected with them on all levels unless you walk into the fear of jumping out of a plane and everything that goes along with it.
"Being there is important. I think chaplains should be on hazardous duty and be able to jump into combat with the paratroopers so they can have the full ministry ability that a chaplain can provide," Bryan said.
Bryan also said that he learned from being in combat that as a chaplain you need as much face time with the soldiers as possible because you build relationships through just being there.
Being able to experience everything the normal paratrooper does means just as much to Bryan as being able to minister to them.
"You sit with them for half a day on the airfield before going out to jump," said Bryan. "You sweat with them, you're tired, you're exhausted and you think the same things they are. Then you pray to God that you get out of the plane and land safely."
So being able to go on airborne jumps has brought Bryan closer to his spirituality, his paratroopers and he's made a few friends along the way. Truly good reasons to continue to work for God and country.