OTF Soldier Story for April 20, 2009 - Chaplain (Capt.) Ed Choi
Current Unit: 36th Signal Battalion
Current Position: Chaplain
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Korea
Hometown: Cerritos, Calif.
Years of Service: 8
Army Chaplain Capt. Ed Choi takes great pride in serving as a father to his three children and as a father figure to the Soldiers he counsels. Born in Korea, Choi recalls hearing stories throughout his childhood about the sacrifices U.S. service members made during the Korean War and these stories sparked his interest in serving his country. Now an American citizen, he and his wife, who share a Korean heritage, want to pass down the lessons and values their own parents taught them. Despite the transitionary challenges a life in the Army has presented them, they work hard to ensure no matter where they are physically located that they maintain a consistent home life for their children.
"I think the Army life can be challenging for kids because of the separations during deployments and moving every two to three years, but overall the military has many benefits for children," said Choi. "A lot depends on the parents and how they help their children adapt."
Choi credits his family with serving as his own support team during both of his deployments, and particularly appreciates the sacrifices his wife, Kathryn, made. Even though she was caring for their three children on her own, they always made time to pray and send letters. Choi says those words of encouragement were a great source of strength to him, as he on a daily basis searched for words of inspiration and guidance for his own Soldiers.
During his most recent deployment to Iraq with the 26th Infantry of the 1st Infantry Division, Choi was responsible for providing pastoral care, counseling Soldiers and conducting religious services. On his way to provide grief counseling to his platoon after an accident earlier in the day on June 21, 2007, Choi's own vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) before he reached the base. Although injured, the Chaplain returned to duty the next day knowing that his mission to provide guidance outweighed his own physical pain. For his meritorious service on that day, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
Upon transferring to the 36th Signal Battalion in June 2008, the family was pleased to learn they would be stationed in Korea. The couple was especially excited to have the opportunity to teach their children their native language and immerse them in their heritage. Choi is proud that his children, Titus (13), Faythe (12) and Emily (8), have been able to travel and experience more than many children their age.