WASHINGTON — “I guess I can say being an Army chaplain runs in the blood for me.”
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tim Ryu, who currently serves in the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, reflects on how the U.S. and Allied Forces literally helped preserve his family line during the Korean War. “I often heard the story where my grandfather, a business owner, and a lay leader at church, was threatened at gunpoint by the North Korean forces during the early stages of the war,” he said. “Then there's my father who served in the Korean Army as a chaplain in the 1970s.”
When his family moved to the United States, Ryu was naturally drawn to the Army chaplaincy. He became an Army chaplain in 2003, just as the Iraq War was kicking off, and was sent to Fort Jackson, S.C. for an expedited five-week Chaplain Basic Officer Course. Shortly after completing CHBOLC, he would be deployed.
“You talk about baptism by fire – once I got to my first unit, and after just four months at my first unit, I was in a combat zone,” Ryu said. “But I was so blessed with great leaders, chaplain leaders and unit leaders, and great NCOs that really took me in, showing me the ropes on small and big things as we went through the unknowns of combat that year.”
Music and Family
Ryu incorporates music in his chaplain ministry and said that it has always been an important part of how his family comes together as family, speaking their spiritual language to one another, and ultimately to God. “Along the way, we've been able to support chapel communities with the gift that God has given us,” Ryu said. “Especially during COVID-19, we were asked to venture into the virtual world and offer some online renditions, as well, which was a challenge, but also a great blessing for all of us.”
“As an American with rich Korean heritage, it’s absolutely been an honor and a privilege to come alongside our soldiers and families of diverse backgrounds, both in war and at our home stations,” Ryu said.