It was a big week for the Chaplain Corps as it celebrated its 246th birthday, held a change of commandant ceremony at the Chaplain School and other activities during regimental week from July 26-30 at Fort Jackson.
The Chaplain Corps birthday was celebrated July 29 in honor of the day in 1775 when the members joined the ranks of the Continental Army. The event was attended by the Chief of Chaplains, Chap. (Maj. Gen.) Thomas Solhjem and Deputy Chief of Chaplains, Chap. (Brig. Gen.) Bill Green. A regimental run and organizational day activities were held on July 27 and a cake cutting ceremony held July 29. A wreath-laying ceremony was also held in the Chaplain School Memorial Garden to honor chaplains and religious affairs specialist who from the Revolutionary War to present have made the ultimate sacrifice for God and country.
“This is the week of celebration of the Army Chaplain Corps as we celebrate our 246th anniversary of service to our great nation,” Solhjem said. “Gen. George Washington looked out over that ragtag militia, mostly shop keepers, merchants, you name it, and essentially said who will care for the soul of this Army and instituted a clarion call to Congress to stand up the Chaplain Corps.”
Solhjem officiated the culminating event of Regimental Week; the ceremony between outgoing commandant, Chap. (Col.) Bryan Walker and incoming commandant, Chap. (Col.) James Palmer, Jr. on July 30.
“To Bryan and Sheryl, thank you so much for what you’ve done, thank you for making this truly the heart and home of the Chaplain Corps,” Solhjem said.
Walker said farewell and reflected on his time as commandant.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in the limelight as I prepare to do something else,” Walker said. “I want to thank the cadre, the officers, the enlisted. If it weren’t for the comradery, support and working together, this place could not function.”
Palmer is a native of Petersburg, Virginia, and is an ordained Baptist minister and endorsed by the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc, who entered the Army in November 1992.
He received the Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia; Master of Divinity degree from Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia; Master of Arts in American studies from The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia; and Doctorate of Ministry degree from Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
His assignments include: deputy command chaplain (forward), U.S. Army Central, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; garrison chaplain, Fort Jackson; Cyber Command chaplain, Fort Meade, Maryland; command chaplain, Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Eustis, Virginia; and director of strategy, plans, policy and resources for Office of the Chief of Chaplains.
His military education includes: Chaplain Officer Basic Course; Chaplain Officer Advanced Course; Force Management Course; Combined Arms and Services Staff School and Command General Staff College; War College Fellow at George Mason University’s Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution.
Palmer’s awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and numerous awards, campaign and service medals.
“James has leadership, he was handpicked and sent here. He is fully capable to take on the mantle of leadership and responsibility and lead this fine organization,” Solhjem said.
Palmer gave a brief greeting to attendees.
“I am extremely honored and privileged for the opportunity to serve as the commandant of this religious institution of excellence and it is truly an honor at the height of my career,” Palmer said. “To lead this team at the heart and home of the Chaplain Corps is a humbling and sacred duty that I will steward with the utmost care. I will do my best by God’s grace with support of Family and the teamwork of the professionals who serve this great institution and I do not take this charge lightly.”
It was a good week for the Army Chaplain Corps as it engages in transformation toward the future goal to build upon Army spiritual readiness by caring for Soldiers, their Families and Army Civilians.