By Ms. Demetria Mosley (Fort Jackson)June 8, 2017
The calling hit him out of nowhere, and the overwhelming desire to just do it took over him.
"It just hit me all at once," said Pfc. Michael Chavez of 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment.
"I'm kind of like a snake, but not in the bad way. I wait until I know what it is that I want
to strike for and then I strike for it and I know I'm not going to miss it."
After attending service for the Latter-day Saints during his first week of Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, Chavez walked up to the person in charge ready to make a big change to his life.
Chavez wanted to become a priest.
"A bunch of people in my platoon asked me, 'Hey, why'd you do it?'" he said. "I told them
there's more than one type of battlefield you know. Mine is spiritual."
On May 21, Chavez became a first-level Priest for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints. When he leaves for Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, in July,
he will become a level two priest.
"I thought I should take on more responsibilities than I already have to help me stay on track better," he said.
No stranger to military life, Chavez's grandfather served during World War II and his father was
in the National Guard for 12 years.
1st Lt. Ronnel Baris, commander of Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment,
said Chavez's decision was inspirational.
"He's going to help make his battle buddies spiritually stronger with faith," he said. "They
are going to be so fortunate to have him."
Chavez said one of the reasons why he joined the Army was to be an example for his Family.
"I have some cousins and nephews that are struggling with discipline and learning how to sacrifice," he said. "Not all of us sacrifice equally. Clearly, I haven't been deployed -- I haven't even finished basic yet -- but I know most people won't trust someone unless they've done it. They are really smart kids and I wanted them to have something to look up to. I want to be a good example."
Chavez said he respected everybody in the military especially the drill sergeants.
His drill sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Hunter, said Chavez is one of two older Soldiers that like to help out their younger comrades.
"I got on him about the look on his face. He has a real serious look to him" said Hunter.
"Later when we did introductions he told the group 'Don't judge me by my facial expressions.
You can come to me if you need anything. I'm here to help'."