101st Airborne Division: Battalion chaplain serves to impact world, comfort others

By Sgt. SHARIFA NEWTONApril 3, 2019

As you walk through the doors of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, and turn left you see the battalion chaplain's open door.

Just past his assistant you can see Capt. Daniel T. Isfan, HHB chaplain, who aspires to impact the world.

"I love what I do," Isfan said. "I love being there for people."

Being in the Army uniform puts Isfan in a position where he can be a positive influence on Soldiers - to him there is nothing better than building relationships with the people he can provide guidance, support and encouragement.

Isfan was born and raised in South Side Chicago until he was about 15 years old. His parents wanted a better lifestyle for their children, so they moved to Phoenix, Arizona.

Isfan later attended Arizona State University and graduated with a degree in construction engineering. He used his degree to start his own business building homes.

Shortly after graduating, Isfan said he was trying to find his place in church.

"I was a children's pastor, a youth pastor and a choir director, I did it all," he said. "I wanted to do something more than my own business. I wanted to impact the world."

Isfan wanted to leave a legacy so when people thought of him they would say, 'I remember that guy, he did great things for God and he affected so many people in a positive manner.'"

During his search to be impactful, Isfan attended a Romanian Youth Convention in Chicago where he met his wife.

"She said she wanted to be a missionary in Africa," Isfan said. "I was so attracted to her love for God and the fact that she wanted to put herself out there to serve."

He moved to Tennessee to be with her and a year later they married, worked on achieving degrees and over time had five children.

"I figured if we were going to go be missionaries, I should study the word," Isfan said.

He attended the Church of God theological seminary where he earned a Master of Divinity. While there, Isfan did a chaplaincy internship at a hospital in Gallatin, Tennessee.

"I had a colleague who used to be in the Army as a chaplain's assistant and he was watching me work one day, and he turns to me and says 'Man you're always so upbeat and you always have a smile on your face. I think you'd be awesome for the Army.' That's when I found out the military had chaplains, so my wife and I prayed about it and then I put in a packet," he said.

Isfan officially commissioned in 2009 and has served as a chaplain for more than nine years. He has deployed four times - three tours in Afghanistan and one in Africa.

Isfan said one of his best experiences was during his first deployment to Afghanistan. A Soldier came through town, his vehicle had rolled over and he sustained fatal injuries. Isfan stayed with the Soldier until the medical evacuation helicopter arrived to move the Soldier into the aircraft.

He still remembers seeing all the Soldiers salute and render honors as the aircraft took off.

"Still to this day, I can taste the sand, and I can see that moment as being so sincere and sacred to me," Isfan said. "To be in moments where other people would run and to stay and endure hardships alongside people, no one can take that from me."

He believes the Army has helped him become a strong guide to help people during times of trouble.

"I like to be out there with the Soldiers while they're training and doing things," Isfan said.

Sergeant Alonzo Johnson, a religious affairs specialist and Isfan's assistant, said, during a unit road march a Soldier was falling back and was about to give up. He remembers Isfan motivating everyone and pushing the Soldier to finish. Everyone could complete it together.

Isfan also is The Sabalauski Air Assault School Chaplain. He prays at a lot of retirement and promotion ceremonies, he organizes Strong Bonds retreats, Bible studies and Family dinner dates at Cole Park Commons, and aids with organizational days.

Justin Fail, a spouse of a Soldier and an attendee of the most recent Strong Bonds retreat said, speaking with Isfan was enlightening for him.

"He was very approachable, and optimistic," Fail said. "Even though this was my first time meeting him, he took his time to help with my problems and answer my questions. I really liked him."

Isfan said being a chaplain allows him to give back.

"You never know who is going to walk through the door, so you always have to be ready to either give a word of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, a word of wisdom or just a presence, someone to be there," Isfan said.