KFOR chaplains ready to lend helping hand
December 26, 2009
- 1st. Lt. Anthony Williams was a staff sergeant cannon crew member before he decided he wanted to become a chaplain.
- Staff Sgt. Laton Lohmann just graduated from North Dakota State when he was asked to deploy as a member of KFOR.
- The two Soldiers of faith came together to form a core team of chaplains for KFOR Soldiers in Kosovo.
- They are all led by Chaplain (Maj.) Maurice Millican, Bismarck, N.D.
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - It wasn't long ago that 1st Lt. Anthony Williams was a cannon crewmember, a staff sergeant, at the time, in the U.S. Army Reserves.
It was at that point in his Army career that he received a Higher calling to serve his country and his fellow Soldiers in a different way. Today, you can call him Chaplain (1st Lt.) Anthony Williams, deputy chaplain for Multi-National Task Force - East here in Kosovo.
Williams, Mt. Vernon, Ill, has been in the military for 16 years, holding various jobs and titles throughout his career. In his civilian life, he works at Walgreens in his hometown.
After deciding that the chaplains' corps was the right place for him, he accepted a commission and spent three years in seminary at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
Then, in August, Williams found out from the Illinois National Guard state chaplain that the North Dakota Army National Guard was looking for an additional chaplain for its upcoming NATO peacekeeping mission, known as KFOR (Kosovo Forces), in Kosovo. After discussing it with his family, he decided he wanted to go.
In Kosovo, Williams met up with another aspiring Soldier of faith in Staff Sgt. Laton Lohmann, Dickinson, N.D., a chaplains' assistant for MNTF-E. Lohmann had just recently graduated from North Dakota State University in Fargo, shortly before his deployment to Kosovo began.
Lohmann also had spent almost two years at the Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo before his time at NDSU. He was studying for the Catholic priesthood and had a great relationship with Chaplain (Maj.) Maury Millican, Bismarck, N.D., the MNTF-E Chaplain, who asked Lohmann to join him on the deployment to Kosovo.
Together, Williams, Lohmann and a core group of fellow chaplains and assistants, all led by Millican, currently, are providing a cohesive Unit Ministry Team for the KFOR Soldiers of MNTF-E.
The primary mission for the team is to support religious and spiritual needs of all MNTF-E Soldiers, regardless of denominations. The team is striving to make the religious services they provide to Soldiers enjoyable and to have Soldiers actively engage in the services. Soldiers who are musically and vocally gifted are encouraged to assist in the services.
The Ministry Team also serves Soldiers at KFOR's multinational headquarters in Pristina.
"It's our goal that every Soldier knows that they have spiritual support while they are here in Kosovo," said Lohmann. "Having spiritual commonality strengthens our bonds."
"It is awesome to see that international Soldiers have a spiritual relationship," said Williams.
Aside from putting on religious services, the Ministry Team is also available to provide counseling to Soldiers, Williams said.
"We want everyone to know that, if you're having a crisis, don't be afraid to go to the chaplains," he said. "It's OK for Soldiers to let their commanders know that they need to speak with a chaplain."
At Camp Bondsteel, the main U.S. KFOR headquarters in Kosovo, the Ministry Team also offers denomination-specific services, such as holding Knights of Columbus meetings and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RICA) classes for those wishing to enter the Catholic Church, said Lohmann.
The team also offers bible studies for all denominations.
The commitment of the ministry team does not go unnoticed by the MNTF-E leadership.
"The support and significance our Unit Ministry Team brings to this deployment cannot be understated." said Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, Bismarck, N.D., MNTF-E commander. "Their work each day caring for Soldiers, Airmen and civilians is recognized and appreciated by everyone they have contact with."
Multi-National Task Force - East is a U.S. led task force commanded by Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This task force is comprised of nearly 2,200 Soldiers, including Task Force Hellas and Task Force POL/UKR (Polish/Ukraine). The charter mission of MNTF-E is maintaining a Safe and Secure Environment and providing Freedom of Movement for the people in Kosovo.