Chaplain delivers 'morale chow' to feed troops' bodies, spirits
April 27, 2010
CAMP GUERNSEY, Wyo. - Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment received a treat and a training break when their chaplain arrived on a rifle range with chow at Camp Guernsey, Wyo. April 14.
Chaplain (Capt.) Henry Son, 3-89's squadron chaplain, visited Troop D Soldiers on the known-distance rifle range. Spc. Dustin Napier, chaplain's assistant, and 94th Brigade Support Battalion cooks attached to "Demon" Troop brought hot "Slugger Steak Sandwiches" to the Troops in the field as part of the chaplain's "morale chow" program.
"What I would like to do is hit all the troops (cavalry company-size units) with this morale chow," said Chaplain Son. "As a Unit Ministry Team (UMT), we have to go out to the Soldiers to provide field services and things to boost morale - like this hot chow.
"They can't go back to the main camp to go to a religious service, so we have to go out to them," Chaplain Son continued.
Chaplain Son, with Napier and cooks in tow, brought "Slugger Steak Sandwiches," which are similar in likeness to Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches. The "Slugger Steak Sandwiches" he delivered to "Ghost" Troop the day before was an overwhelming success.
"I gave them the opportunity to participate in a field service and got a great response - a large crowd," said Chaplain Son. "And that is what Soldiers really appreciate, when we go out there to spiritually encourage and make life a little bit better for them."
Capt. Carlos Wandembergh, Troop D commander, said any time the chaplain gets around the Soldiers it raises their morale. They get a break from training, and everyone has an opportunity to sit around, have a good time and talk, he said.
Wandembergh said his Soldiers love to see their leaders getting out and training with them, and that includes the squadron chaplain. Pfc. Mariana Little, Troop D supply specialist, said the morale chow was good, but she appreciated the chaplain feeding both her spirit and her body.
"It is pretty cool, because the words of wisdom he gives us are pretty good," said Little. "It is like he kind of knows what we are going through and knows what to tell us - what words to say to us, and knows that there is always somebody there with us watching over us.
"It is like we are not alone," continued Little. "If we need somebody to talk to, he is there for us. If we need words of courage, spiritual (support), he is there for us."
Chaplain Son said much of what UMTs do is intangible, and one can't truly measure its impact. He does, however, witness a boost in Soldiers' moods when he visits them and participates in the same training they are doing.
As a chaplain, Chaplain Son does not carry a weapon, and he did not fire a rifle on the known-distance range. However, he does more than deliver morale chow and conduct religious services while in the field. He and Napier participate in as much military training as they can.
It helps Soldiers to see the chaplain "living out in the field with them and just enduring the same hardships as they are - knowing that I am with them," said Chaplain Son. "And that is part of the blessing of being a chaplain and being a UMT."
"As a Unit Ministry Team, we are also soldiers and we have to be tactically and technically proficient. We want to be an asset to the commander and to the unit, so we will train alongside Soldiers as much as we can, for example - the obstacle course," Chaplain Son explained. "It is great training to build confidence over dangerous obstacles. Having my assistant participate in the high angle-low angle marksmanship makes him more proficient as a marksman and a better Soldier overall."
Chaplain Son said supporting troops downrange with programs such as "morale chow" is contingent upon missions. However, if there are available resources, Chaplain Son will work with the squadron commander to see how he can best support the troops out in the field.
Another way in which Chaplain Son supports Soldiers is providing religious support for those Soldiers of various faith groups to ensure they are cared for. At Camp Guernsey, he contacted a local Catholic priest to visit and provide a mass for the 3-89 Cav. Soldiers. Chaplains also ensure Jewish and Muslim Soldiers have special MREs.
Regarding the Slugger Steak Sandwiches he served, Chaplain Son credits fellow 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division chaplains from 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Bn., 4th Inf. Regt. for giving him the idea of providing morale chow. The infantry battalion chaplains shared with Chaplain Son their lessons learned from recent off-post training they conducted with their units.
"There is a saying in the chaplain corps that we live by; 'Bring God to Soldiers and Soldiers to God,'" said Chaplain Son.
"We go to where Soldiers are to provide religious and morale support. We go out there and reach out to them," continued Chaplain Son. "When we do that, it opens up doors, and they see that I am available and accessible for whatever spiritual or religious needs they may have. That is the whole concept of the UMT mission."