Camp Zama community hears messages of resilience at prayer breakfast

By Sean Kimmons, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsMay 10, 2024

More than 100 community members attended a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, at the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan to show appreciation for the right to freely practice one’s faith. Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity.
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – More than 100 community members attended a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, at the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan to show appreciation for the right to freely practice one’s faith. Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, provides opening remarks during a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, at the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan. More than 100 community members attended the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity.
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, provides opening remarks during a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, at the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan. More than 100 community members attended the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
More than 100 community members attended a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, at the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan to show appreciation for the right to freely practice one’s faith. Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity.
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – More than 100 community members attended a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, at the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan to show appreciation for the right to freely practice one’s faith. Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
More than 100 community members attended a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, at the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan to show appreciation for the right to freely practice one’s faith. Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity.
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – More than 100 community members attended a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, at the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan to show appreciation for the right to freely practice one’s faith. Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – More than 100 community members attended a National Day of Prayer breakfast Thursday at the Camp Zama Community Club to show appreciation for the right to freely practice one’s faith.

Col. Marcus Hunter, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, hosted the event that had several chaplains offer prayers and a motivational speaker share his story of overcoming adversity.

In his opening remarks, Hunter quoted former President Abraham Lincoln who once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”

While Lincoln turned to prayer as he faced chaos and uncertainty, Hunter said he also does the same for guidance and protection when tackling the challenges of today’s world.

Hunter said prayer is about being thankful and encouraged everyone to count the blessings they have in their lives.

“We will not underestimate the power of prayer,” he said, emphasizing his own personal prayer. “That like Abraham Lincoln that we too can find strength in humility and faith. And, as such, that we may each cultivate an attitude of gratitude.”

In 1952, then-President Harry Truman signed a law to establish an annual National Day of Prayer. The observance, which is held the first Thursday of each May, has continued to serve as an opportunity for Americans to be grateful for their many freedoms and blessings.

During the breakfast, Col. J.P. Smith, command chaplain for U.S. Army Japan, introduced the guest speaker, John Arroyo.

Arroyo, a former Special Forces Soldier who was wounded in a mass shooting in 2014 at then-Fort Hood (now Fort Cavazos) in Texas, spoke of how the near-death experience was a wake-up call to change his destructive behavior.

“John Arroyo is the example of one who has been knocked down, one who has gone through challenges … [and] one who has faced adversity at every level of life,” Smith said, “but, most importantly, one who has always gotten back up.”

Before the shooting, which left three dead and 16 others wounded, Arroyo said he had previously sought refuge from his personal issues through alcohol.

Arroyo said his father drank himself to death while he was young, and Arroyo later became a gang member and a meth addict as he struggled without the love and affirmation from a father.

John Arroyo, a former Special Forces Soldier who was wounded in a mass shooting, shares his story with more than 100 community members at a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, inside the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – John Arroyo, a former Special Forces Soldier who was wounded in a mass shooting, shares his story with more than 100 community members at a National Day of Prayer breakfast May 9, 2024, inside the Camp Zama Community Club in Japan. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
John Arroyo, center left, a former Special Forces Soldier who was wounded in a mass shooting, speaks to enablers and caregivers during a resiliency workshop inside the U.S. Army Japan headquarters building at Camp Zama, May 9, 2024.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – John Arroyo, center left, a former Special Forces Soldier who was wounded in a mass shooting, speaks to enablers and caregivers during a resiliency workshop inside the U.S. Army Japan headquarters building at Camp Zama, May 9, 2024. (Photo Credit: Kei Sasaki) VIEW ORIGINAL
John Arroyo, left, a former Special Forces Soldier who was wounded in a mass shooting, speaks to enablers and caregivers during a resiliency workshop inside the U.S. Army Japan headquarters building at Camp Zama, May 9, 2024.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – John Arroyo, left, a former Special Forces Soldier who was wounded in a mass shooting, speaks to enablers and caregivers during a resiliency workshop inside the U.S. Army Japan headquarters building at Camp Zama, May 9, 2024. (Photo Credit: Kei Sasaki) VIEW ORIGINAL

In 1998, Arroyo joined the Army for the discipline and a few years later became a Green Beret. He eventually served three combat deployments.

But when he redeployed, he said he brought the war home, leading him to verbally abuse his wife and children.

“I am here today to tell you that my wife attempted suicide twice because I was a mean, angry drunk,” he said.

Then, on April 2, 2014, his life would change forever.

As he walked from his car to his unit headquarters building, he heard gunshots. At first, he didn’t think much of it since he was on an Army post. But as he turned his head, a bullet fired by a fellow Soldier struck his neck.

The .45 caliber bullet, Arroyo said, severed his jugular vein and went through his voice box and traveled into his right shoulder.

Arroyo fell to the ground. As his life poured out from him, he said he thought about his living family and not his deceased father’s affirmation he had been seeking for much of his life.

“When I thought I had only seconds to live,” he said, “the people that I sacrificed most were the only ones that I thought about.”

After surviving such a traumatic event, Arroyo said the incident also strengthened his faith.

“You have to make a decision on what is going to be the source of your resilience,” he said, “because if you don’t have a rock … to stand on, good luck because you’re standing on sand.”

Following the breakfast, Smith invited Arroyo to a resiliency workshop at the USARJ headquarters building.

The workshop provided an opportunity for various enablers and caregivers, including members of unit ministry teams, from the Camp Zama community to share ideas and ask questions to Arroyo.

A similar workshop was also held Friday at Torii Station on Okinawa.

“John Arroyo is basically coming in to care for our caregivers,” Smith said of the workshops, “[and] provide them with some resiliency tools that will help them do their job better in caring for our Soldiers and family members.”

As he finished his speech during the breakfast, Arroyo noted the importance of chaplains and others who are there to help anyone, even if they are not religious, find their source of strength.

“You are absolutely not alone and when you abide and stop fighting, then you don’t have to do the fighting,” he said. “Your source of resilience will do it for you.”

Related links:

U.S. Army Garrison Japan news

USAG Japan official website