BENSON, Ariz. – Over the summer, the U.S. Army has celebrated historical milestones throughout the branch. From the 248th Army birthday to the 163rd Army Signal Corps birthday and the 105th Warrant Officer Cohort birthday, the heritage and spirit of the Army have been on full display. On July 29, the Army honors another significant milestone.
U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command headquarters' religious affairs team joined civilians, Family members and ministry support teams from around Fort Huachuca July 28 at Katchner Caverns State Park to celebrate the Chaplain Corps’ birthday.
The Army Chaplain Corps has been caring for the soul of the Army for 248 years, since Gen. George Washington encouraged the Continental Congress to create the Chaplain Corps on July 29, 1775. The Army Chaplain Corps is one of the oldest branches of the U.S. Army and was among the first 10 Army branches established.
“From the very beginning, our nation thought it was important for there to be people of faith to encourage, help and protect the exercise of faith and religion,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Vincent Myers, command staff chaplain for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence & Fort Huachuca.
Chaplain (Col.) Hyeonjoong “Mike” Kim is the new Command Chaplain for NETCOM, and has been in the corps for 21 years.
As those in attendance celebrated the success of the corps and reflected on its rich history with pride, Kim expressed what being a chaplain meant to him.
“[The event] helped remind us of the Chaplain Core values and the meaning of the Call to be a 56A and 56M,” Kim said. “Nurture the living, care for the wounded [and] honor the dead.
Upon the corps' creation, the Continental Congress authorized one ordained chaplain, serving at the rank of captain, for each regular regiment of the Continental Army. Thus, ensuring those American Soldiers would always have spiritual support and guidance close at hand.
“Every moment counts,” Kim expressed. “Educating, training, mentoring and learning is what chaplains do.”
Chaplain (Col.) Paul Jaedicke, NETCOM’s previous Command Chaplain, reflected on his time working closely with the Soldiers and civilians who support the Chaplain Corps on Fort Huachuca.
“I think we’ve done a lot of great work over the last two years,” Jaedicke said. “We re-established a baseline for religious support here.”
Today, Army Chaplains now represent five major faith groups - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu, and nearly 120 religious denominations.
The Army’s diversity is its strength, and Fort Huachuca has continually been able to not only provide religious support, but also help Build Strong and Ready Teams throughout the surrounding community.
“When commanders look at the chaplain sections, they think highly of us, and appreciate very much what we have been doing,” Jaedicke said.
Today, the Army Chaplain Corps collectively includes approximately 3,015 chaplains, 2,800 religious affairs specialists, 540 chaplain candidates, 50 Directors of Religious Education and 90 other Department of the Army Civilians.
On the 248th birthday of the Army Chaplain Corps, their efforts prove why the corps has been instrumental since 1775.
“We are part of a legacy that stretches longer than our nation’s history,” Myers said. “Anytime we get a chance to get together to celebrate that, and recognize we are part of something bigger than ourselves is pretty special.”