Army Reserve chaplain celebrates three decades of service
April 2, 2014
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - It has been said that he who cannot endure the bad will not live to see the good.
Chap. (Col.) Mark Sachs has persevered through both the bad and the good during his nearly 32 years serving in the Army and army Reserve.
"That's quite a testament to his dedication and commitment to our country," said Maj. Gen. Margaret W. Boor, commanding general of the Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command, during Sachs' retirement ceremony March 7 at the Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center in Williamsburg, Va.
"I first want to give voice to my gratitude to God," said Sachs, a Connecticut native who has served as the 99th RSC command chaplain since 2011, "for leading me to the military and placing me in the company of wonderful soldiers and chaplains who have mentored me."
Sachs began his military career in November 1982 when he was commissioned a second lieutenant as a staff specialist and entered the Chaplain Candidate Program, following his Rabbinic training that began in 1981.
"As all of us know, we don't do this on our own - we stand on the shoulders of great people," he said. "The Army not only gave me opportunities to do great things for people, but it also made me a better person, a more Godly person, and I'm grateful to the Army for that."
After active-duty service in Georgia and Germany, Sachs served as the Fort Dix Mobilization Team chaplain and was mobilized in 1995 during the war in Bosnia. He also served in Afghanistan during the High Holidays in 2006, and again in 2007 in Iraq.
"(The Army is) where I learned to see God's hand in everything that happens, whether it's pleasurable or painful," said Sachs, who has been married to the former Sara Goldner for 32 years. "The good times have been glorious, and the difficult times have helped Sara and I grow.
"Thank God there's one angel who has been with me," Sachs said of his wife. "I'm very grateful to God for her."
In 2005, Sachs was mobilized for five years with the 99th Regional Readiness Command to serve as director of the command's Strong Bonds program, prior to becoming the 99th RSC's command chaplain in 2011.
During his tenure with the 99th RSC, Sachs has personally led more than 120 Strong Bonds retreats for single and married Soldiers and their families.
"I've been able to care for God's children, I've been able to heal broken hearts and broken marriages, help people making good decisions when they were going to make bad decisions," he said. "You are a team, and when you work as a team, you can accomplish great things because you make up for each other's weaknesses."
Sachs has seen his share of bad and good over his three-plus decades of military service, but the one constant in his journey has been his faith in God, the Army and his fellow soldiers.
"It's been an unbelievable privilege, every moment of it," he said. "The Army has done so much for me. Whatever I've given, I've gotten back one-hundred fold."
Sachs earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Yeshiva University in 1979, studied in Jerusalem for two years, earned rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Elchanon Isaac Theological Seminary in 1984 and a masters degree in education from Boston University. He completed four units of clinical pastoral education and was board certified in 1998.
His military education includes the Chaplain Officer Basic and Advance Courses, Command and General Staff College and the Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Course.
Sachs' awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak-leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal (sixth award), Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device.