A Division East officer concluded his time with First Army by being recognized with a prestigious award.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ned Bartlebaugh, former Division East chaplain, was presented with the Honorable Order of Martin of Tours medal during a ceremony on June 30 at the Pentagon.

The medal is awarded to chaplains and Religious Affairs specialists who demonstrate the highest standards of integrity and moral character, display an outstanding degree of professional competence, selflessly serve Soldiers and families, and contribute to the promotion of the Army chaplaincy.

During the ceremony, Chaplain (Col.) Paul Jaedicke, chief of plans for the Army Chaplain Corps, noted that during his two years as Division East chaplain, Bartlebaugh “advised his commander with candor, strategic advice, and interfaced with subordinate brigades and battalions on behalf of Division East chaplains and Religious Affairs NCOs. His unwavering character enabled consistent partnership with U.S. Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces.”

Bartlebaugh served with Division East for two years and is now in charge of force management for the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. He has had two iterations of Army service, the first coming when he served as an enlisted infantryman from 1981-1985.

“I would never have said when I first came in the Army that I wanted to be the force management officer of the chaplain corps,” he said.

But having been a young infantryman bestowed on him an ability to relate to the junior Soldiers and NCOs he end up counseling as a chaplain.

“I knew exactly what Soldiers were doing because I had done them and it helped me when I was talking or interacting with Soldiers,” he said.

He admits his earlier days were filled with “a lot of bad choices,” but that eventually led him to a religious path. After graduating from seminary and serving as a civilian pastor, Bartlebaugh felt the calling to rejoin the service as a chaplain. He commissioned as a first lieutenant in 2004 and has been serving ever since.

“I didn’t come in with a 20-year plan,” he said. “I just wanted to serve God and Soldiers wherever they were. I wanted to be where the Soldiers were and meet their needs and I’ve been blessed to be able to do that.”

Bartlebaugh stressed that an Army chaplain’s focus is on companionship, not conversion.

“We’re not here to make Soldiers believe what we believe,” he said. “We’re here to lead Soldiers in their worst of times and celebrate their best of times and walk through the mundane times right alongside them.”

His two years with Division East entailed setting up the unit’s chaplain directorate from scratch. When he arrived, there was no religious affairs NCO, no SOPs, and no equipment.

“None of the basic stuff was there. I stole a chair,” he quipped. “It was a huge learning curve but I had support from the staff.”

Jaedicke touched on just how much Bartlebaugh accomplished by getting the directorate up and running.

“He developed a system of systems within the Division East. He stood up a previously defunct division system with a staff of only one, himself,” Jaedicke said. “Chaplain Bartlebaugh developed standardization in training, products, and exercises across Division East. He developed a site for components two and three to utilize with training materials, after action reports, exportable training packets, and material designed to maximize training while readying units for mobilization.”

Working with those Army Reserve and National Guard units was one of his favorite aspects of the assignment.

“It was very eye-opening for me because I have spent my entire career in the active component,” Bartlebaugh said. “I got to understand their world a little bit better, and they challenges they face. From that, I was able to help the brigades determine how they can get better from the beginning of the exercise to when they leave. I enjoyed interacting and mentoring unit ministry teams during exercises.”

In fact, he’s enjoyed nearly every aspect of his career.