FORT CARSON, Colo. – Religious Affairs Specialist, Sgt 1st Class David I. Hong, was one of the few to have the honor to receive the Order of Martin of Tours Award in a ceremony Sept. 8 here at Fort Carson.
According to a memorandum from the office of the Chief of Chaplains, “the Honorable Order of Martin of Tours is awarded to those chaplains and religious affairs specialists who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character, displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence, selflessly served soldiers and families, and contributed to the promotion of the Army Chaplaincy.”
Hong expressed how he feels it’s important for people to know what religious affairs has to offer.
“I feel like people need to understand what we do as religious affairs and I think that’s why they came up with this award,” said Hong. “Martin was someone that like really set an example of selfless service and sacrifice.”
Hong didn’t expect to receive this award and expressed his gratitude towards the chaplain leadership here with special thanks to Installation Management Command because they came to support him and his family in this memorable moment.
“Sergeant Hong is a very humble man,” said Sgt. Cameron Salas, religious affairs NCO assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division. “He’s very giving with his time and efforts. I worked for him when I was a specialist and he invested in not just me as a Soldier but as a person. He cared about me, my family, and my personal growth.”
Hong believes it should be second nature to love people. Hong joined the U.S. Army in August 2009 when he was 36 years old. He joined as a chaplain’s assistant, now referred to as a religious affairs specialist, because of his family’s background in ministry.
Hong served 14 years faithfully in the ministry, however in his 13th year of service he found out he had cancer.
“I found out in July 2022, that I had colon cancer, almost stage four,” he said. “It felt like everything changed quickly and it was pretty hard.”
Even though the six months of chemotherapy were tough, it didn’t stop him from caring about people, his community, and his Soldiers. He received support from his Soldiers, his leaders, the hospital staff, and most importantly his wife.
Cancer hasn’t stopped his resolve, and he continues to give his time and efforts to his Soldiers and his community.
Hong worked hard to ensure that his Soldiers were also recognized today by presenting Army Commendation Medals and Army Achievement Medals to those who have displayed selfless service through their work for the community.
“I want people to understand that our community as the Chaplain Corps is more than providing religious support,” said Hong. “We’re a community that wants to pour out to people, genuinely want to love people and support families.”
Monica, Hong’s wife, was recognized and received the Chaplain Corps Distinguished Spouse Award for her outstanding contribution to the Soldiers and their families.