ZACAPA, Guatemala - Lt. Col. John Meyer, chaplain and his assistant Pfc. Josiah Williams, both of the 372nd Engineer Brigade of Minnesota, joined a rotation of soldiers from all over the world during Beyond the Horizon 2014 - Guatemala. Beyond the Horizon is a joint partnership between the United States and Central and South America and the Caribbean to bring medical, dental, and engineering programs to the local communities.
Meyer held services for the soldiers who were interested, as well as hosted bible study groups throughout the rotation. Meyer and Williams both joined the troops at each site to provide a helping hand with the construction of the buildings and get to know the soldiers.
"It's a big deal for the chaplain to spend time with the soldiers on their work site," stated Col. John Findley, Task Force Oso commander. "He gains their trust so that they will feel comfortable talking to him."
Meyer has deployed twice, Kuwait in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2009; however, this is his first Beyond the Horizon mission. He provides multiple services to the troops including religious services, advisement of morals, ethics, and morale for the soldiers, and counseling of any issue.
"When you are with troops you don't know, it's better to jump out there and work with them," Meyer explained. "It can make it easier for them to talk to me."
"He's going out and working and joking with the soldiers which allows him to get on their level," stated Williams. "It makes him approachable, not seen as just another officer, and that provides an opportunity for them to just talk to him."