FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers, Family Members and friends of the 10th Mountain Division (LI) congregated June 18 at Riva Ridge Chapel to say goodbye to Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John L. Kallerson and to welcome Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tony S. Petros as their new division chaplain.

The changing of authority between chaplains is known as the "changing of the stole."

The chaplain's stole is a symbol of personal and spiritual commitment as well as public religious office.

The wearing of distinctive apparel by priests and military commanders dates back to ancient times. Priests of the Old Testament were commanded to wear certain garments and ornaments of office to demonstrate God's choice of spiritual leadership among mankind.

American chaplains, serving with our armed forces since the battles of Lexington and Concord, continue to wear the distinctive uniform and dress of clergy. During World War I, the first formal issue items for a chaplain's kit included special vestments to assist the command in identifying chaplains while conducting services or ministering to the command. The chaplain's stole became part of the chaplain's kit as an issue item during World War II.

Today, the stole still symbolizes the ancient tradition of a spiritual leader and servant of God. It represents an unfailing pastoral commitment throughout American military history to care for the spiritual needs of those serving in uniform.

After the invocation, by Chaplain (Maj.) Darrick Gutting, deputy division chaplain, and a Scripture reading of Micah 6:6-8 and Isaiah 6:8 by Chaplain (Col.) Darrell Thomsen, senior installation chaplain, Chaplain (Master Sgt.) El Sar, read the history of the passing of the stole.

After the story was read, Maj. Gen. Stephen Townsend, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, presented Kallerson with the Meritorious Service Medal for his outstanding service as the division chaplain.

Townsend also recognized Connie S. Kallerson for her more than 1,600 hours of volunteer work, including 900 for the USO.

After the awards presentation, Townsend proceeded to conduct the changing of the stole ceremony with Kallerson and Petros.

"I've kind of got a soft spot in my heart for chaplains," Townsend said. "I'm married to the daughter of an Army chaplain."

As the stole was passed "from one great chaplain to the next," Townsend noted that this is very important to all of the Soldiers.

"There aren't many people in the Army wearing Chaplain Kallerson's badges," he said. "And there sure aren't many in the Chaplain's Corps. I asked Kallerson one time, 'What is your story?' And he replied, 'I got the call.'"

Townsend then noted that from looking at Petros' biography and what he has heard about his reputation, he knew the new division chaplain could be counted on to live up to the charge.

After the general's remarks, Kallerson addressed the audience.

"I feel like I'm giving away my daughter's hand in marriage," he said. "I have been blessed to work with a great command team in the past two years. What an awesome thing to be able to tell the world -- that we got to experience Fort Drum."

After thanking all of the unit ministry teams for their hard work, Kallerson said he and his wife were looking forward to the new challenge.

After applause, Petros took the podium to address the crowd.

"It is awesome to be a part of the 10th Mountain Division team," he said. "I'm thankful (to you) for putting your trust in me for this position. I want to thank (the Kallersons) for setting us up for success, and thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve the division and the community."

After the ceremony and benediction, everyone was invited to a farewell / reception barbecue.