III Corps welcomes new command chaplain
July 29, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas - Fort Hood and III Corps celebrated the Chaplain Corps' anniversary and the passing of the III Corps stole in a ceremony held July 17 at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel.
The ceremony celebrated the Chaplain Corps' 239 years of service to Soldiers and their families, the retirement of outgoing III Corps Command Chaplain Col. Matthew Goff, and the passing of the III Corps stole to incoming III Corps Command Chaplain Col. Robert Whitlock.
The celebration included a detailed history of the Army Chaplain Corps, the cutting of an anniversary cake and the change of stole ceremony.
Col. Tom Solhjem, U.S. Army Forces Command chaplain, removed the command stole from Goff and placed it around the neck of Whitlock, which signified his new role as the senior adviser to the commander of III Corps on matters of religion, morals and morale.
"The passing of the stole is not a change of command ceremony, rather it is a tangible representation that the responsibility for spiritual leadership and pastoral care has passed from one chaplain to another," Lt. Col. David Lile, deputy command chaplain, III Corps, said during the ceremony.
Goff, who is retiring following 39 years of military service, made it his top priority to lead the unit ministry teams. In his remarks, he brandished a baseball bat, which he said signified three commitments members of the Chaplain Corps should follow.
"This is the bat commitment. I use it to remind folks of three things," Goff said. "Your first commitment in life is your commitment to God and the practice of your faith. The second commitment is the commitment to your family. Last, your commitment to this profession. Whenever you see a bat, think about commitments, and those three commitments, to God, your family and this profession, and you will do well through all the days in your life."
Goff thanked the members of the community and welcomed Whitlock into his new role.
"It's been my honor to serve you and to walk alongside you in my journey here at the Great Place," Goff said. "I'll leave the cellphone and keys on the desk, my rucksack in the closet in memory of my great journey here."
Whitlock said he was honored to take on his new responsibilities and looked forward to his service in the community.
"I look forward to serving III Corps and the Great Place," Whitlock said. "I am honored to be selected to serve III Corps and this community. I look forward to being a part of this spiritual program here at Fort Hood."
Whitlock, a native of Hastings, Florida, most recently served as the Eighth Army chaplain and is endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Goff plans on retiring to his home state of Arkansas and is endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention. He plans on continuing his spiritual leadership there.