Master chaplain assistant serves in Afghanistan with pride
February 5, 2014
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Master Sgt. Harry E. Slone Jr., 4th Infantry Division's master chaplain assistant, was a couple of months into his deployment in southern Afghanistan when he found out his son, Pfc. Aaron Slone, was stationed in Germany and would soon deploy to Afghanistan.
He was both excited and concerned at the prospect of his son deploying to Afghanistan. Aaron Slone, an information technology specialist, arrived in Afghanistan - at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, in eastern Afghanistan - in mid-January.
"As a father I am concerned, as a soldier I am proud," Harry Slone said. "Knowing that my son is following in my footsteps is honorable and humbling."
Harry Slone, who is based at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, has been in the Army since the early 90s and has deployed several times. Aaron Slone joined the Army last summer and just arrived in Afghanistan to begin his first deployment.
"Two generations being deployed at the same time probably doesn't happen too often and it's pretty cool," Aaron Slone said in an email.
Although the two are serving in different regional commands, the two hope to see each other while both are serving in Afghanistan.
Harry Slone's concern and joy for his son is representative of the demeanor he takes in overseeing all chaplain assistants in Regional Command (South). He makes sure they are trained in their duties and responsibilities: Chaplain assistants are counted on to help run chapel services and support chaplains, among other tasks. Harry Slone also helps organize memorials and services for fallen warriors - something he considers one of the most important jobs he has as a master chaplain assistant.
"In a solemn way, one of the greatest tasks we accomplish is to honor the dead and to help bring closure to the unit," he said.
Harry Slone attended basic training in 1991 and has been a chaplain assistant his whole Army career.
"As soon as I was able to join, I joined," he said. "The Army saved my life. It instilled a lot of discipline in me. It taught me how to be a man, how to be a better father."
He speaks confidently about the relevance of the seven Army values - loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage - and how they can impact one's life even outside the military.
"If you live the seven Army values daily, they transfer over to being a father and husband," Harry Slone said, pointing to duty as an example. "If I do my duty as a husband and father, I will create an environment for my family to be successful and for my kids to give something back to society."
An important aspect of Harry Slone's current job is to to track the battlefield movement of the division's Catholic priest, so Soldiers at different bases in southern Afghanistan are able to celebrate Mass as often as possible.
He also provides security for Lt. Col. Bill Harrison, RC(S) command chaplain, when both fly out to other locations to check up on other International Security Assistance Force chaplains and chaplain assistants.
"One of our major tasks is to make sure chaplains move safely around the battlefield," he said.
Training in mid-November that Harry Slone helped organize allowed chaplain assistants at KAF to experience firing their weapons with increased heart rates, better preparing them to use their weapons should they have to protect a chaplain in combat.
Harry Slone looks to his foundation - faith and family - to get through every day of the deployment, he said.
"Knowing that I have an avenue to turn to, knowing God will answer my prayers, is what pushes me through," he said. "My family is huge for me too. I know what I do is honoring them. My wife accepts me being away from her and accomplishing the mission. She is a former soldier and knows how this goes."