U.S. ARMY GARRISON HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea (May 5, 2021) – Twenty-three chaplains and religious affairs specialists tested their mettle from April 18-30 during training at Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea.
The Eighth Army Chaplain directorate hosted the two-week course, called the Emergency Medical Ministry/Combat Medical Ministry Course, or EMM/CMM for short.
The EMM/CMM is to the Chaplain Corps as the Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Expert Field Medical Badge are to the infantry and medical branches, said Chaplain (Maj.) Eric Dean, Eighth Army deputy command chaplain and course director.
“Students were required to combine basic Soldier skills with casualty care and the Chaplain branch’s core competencies: nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the fallen,” Dean explained.
The commander of Eighth Army, Lt. Gen. Bill Burleson, emphasized the importance of the training, specifically noting the role religious affairs Soldiers serve in units.
“Being ready to ‘Fight Tonight’ means we all need to be ready mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually,” said Burleson during the course graduation ceremony. “This includes unit ministry teams in battalions and brigades that are on the forefront of religious and spiritual preparation. As a commander in combat, I looked to my UMT to help Soldiers deal with the wounds of war. Some of which are visible and other wounds which are hidden - often carried silently.”
Course participants led devotions at the beginning of each training day, incorporating Korean War chaplain and chaplain assistant history. At night, they conducted rounds visiting patients and staff at the Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital on U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys.
Soldiers participating in the EMM/CMM course also received blocks of instruction on bio-medical ethics, traumatic event management, moral injury, and post-traumatic stress. They practiced memorial and ramp ceremonies, which are a memorial service held prior to the departure or arrival of an aircraft carrying a deceased Soldier’s body. The drills included loading simulated casualties and remains on CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
Other physical portions of the EMM/CMM course included a tactical water survival orientation at the Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal Training Complex on USAG Humphreys and the tactical combat casualty care course. Participants were also led by Chaplains (LTC) Patrick Devine and (MAJ) Omari Thompson and Sgt. 1st Class Trevor Rush on a staff ride to the location of the first U.S. Army Chaplain killed in action during the Korean War, Chaplain (Capt.) Herman Felhoelter, who was executed by the enemy while providing last rites to wounded troops at the Battle of Daejeon.
Students validated their training with a capstone event in which teams had to navigate situational training exercise lanes that included reacting to simulated indirect fire, handling mock casualties, and negotiating a fake chemical attack.
“(The) EMM/CMM (Course) provided an intensely realistic and challenging training opportunity for unit ministry teams across Korea,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Justin Wax, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade. “The rigorous pace and demanding exercises created the feel and atmospherics of my last combat deployment. The multidisciplinary instruction was consistently excellent and very practical for Army operations. I am much more prepared to provide religious support in combat operations than I was two weeks ago.”
Another Soldier who participated in the training echoed a similar sentiment.
"The EMM/CMM course personally showed me that our work is 24/7,” said Pfc. Rena Clark, 65th Medical Brigade. “We (the UMTs) have to be willing to be there for our brothers, sisters, and Families. Soldiers can count on their UMTs who will stand in the gap when all hope is lost spiritually and physically.”