Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for August 23, 2010 - Spc. Shawn Antonucci

Specialist Shawn Antonucci

Current Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 53rd Brigade Support Battalion
Current Position: Chaplain Assistant
Component: National Guard
Current Location: Camp Virginia, Kuwait
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Fla.
Years of Service: 3

Three years ago Spc. Shawn Antonucci joined the Army because God told him it was time to seize the opportunity.

“I joined the National Guard with no rank at the age of 34,” Antonucci explained. “Joining the Army was a very easy decision for me, I just had to wait for the timing to be right and for God to open the door for me.”

Now in Kuwait, Antonucci is serving as a chaplain assistant and is looking after a man of the cloth.

“Priority one is to protect the chaplain,” Antonucci said. “The chaplain is a noncombatant and does not carry a weapon. I am assigned the only weapon for the two person team. It is my responsibility to know where the chaplain is at and to stay in communication with him all the time.”

In addition to keeping the chaplain safe from all threats, Antonucci is responsible for assisting with upkeep in the chapel, setting up for religious services and visiting Soldiers in need to distribute care packages.

“One important part of my job is to build morale with the Soldiers by distributing care packages. You can just see the change in the Soldier after they receive the package, knowing that someone has put the thought into sending that Soldier a little something for serving their country,” Antonucci said.

Antonucci typically assists the chaplain with holding a weekly Bible study and bi-weekly Sunday services. That said, the pair work to maintain flexibility in their schedules to accommodate any needs which may arise among their Soldiers.

“Basically, we ‘have Bible, will travel’.”

And when it comes to religious services, the door is always open to all.

"Services are attended by anyone that is on camp and are not limited to anyone. I have seen Soldiers from all different branches as well as civilians that attend services," Antonucci said.

While Antonucci is proud of the work that he and the chaplain have completed during their time in Kuwait, this deployment has proven to be a mixed blessing for the Soldier, full of both trials and triumphs.

“This is my first deployment and I’ve been assigned to the biggest chapel in Kuwait. It’s kind of like shock and awe,” Antonucci said. “The most challenging thing is being away from my wife and children. My greatest reward from this deployment comes from the blessings that have been bestowed on me from the Lord strengthening my faith.”

Earlier in his deployment Antonucci completed the Warrior Leader Course and has since been nominated for a promotion that will make him a Noncommissioned Officer (NCO). Antonucci looks forward to joining the NCO ranks and taking on the responsibilities of caring for and mentoring his fellow Soldiers as only this select group of leaders, deemed ‘The Backbone of the Army,’ can.

“I am now a Specialist and am on the promotion list for Sergeant. It means a lot to me to actually make Sergeant. Rank is not given, it is earned! I believe it takes talent and skill to become a leader and it also takes experience, which I have received from this deployment.”

Antonucci is slated to return home to St. Petersburg later this year. He looks forward to spending time with his family and returning to the City of St. Petersburg Police Department where he has worked for the last 10 years as a 911 emergency dispatcher.

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