By Spc. Creighton Holub, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div.March 9, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HUNTER, Iraq - Two U.S. Army chaplains are building much more than the faith of their Soldiers on the remote base here.
Chaplains Colt Randles and Michael Roberts, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are building the Solid Rock Chapel for the Cav. Soldiers, one board at a time.
"I waited four months for a tent," said Randles, a native of Muskegon, Mich. "It was me and my kit. I was conducting services with a cardboard box in the dining facility."
The Solid Rock Chapel provides a permanent structure for the Soldiers of FOB Hunter and smaller transient units to celebrate their religious beliefs, but is also available for interpreters and civilian patrons, such as AAFES and KBR employees. The chaplains have even expanded the facility by adding 'Holy Joe's CafAfA,' which has hot coffee available for the Troops.
The chapel has a large-screen television so troops can play video games or watch DVD movies during their down time.
"Guys relate to video games," explained Roberts, who hails from Killeen, Texas. "They slaughter me on Call of Duty 4, but it's a tool to relate with them."
He said fortunately he's winning 80 percent of his Madden '09 games against the troops, because it's more than pride that's on the line. Sometimes the chaplain does pushups if he loses, but the troops have to show up for the next Sunday service if he wins.
Randles and Roberts are not only brothers in Christ, but met each other early on during their Chaplain Officer Basic Leadership Course.
They are currently planning a strategy to help Soldiers reintegrate with their families when the 4th BCT, 1Cav. Div. returns to Ft. Hood, Tx. in a few months. Roberts is scheduled to teach classes about financial responsibility, while Randles is set to hold marriage enrichment classes.
Since the Chaplains are co-located here, near the south-eastern border of Iraq, they can share the course-load, the same way they share the process of improving the Solid Rock Chapel.