By Jeanne Stewart, Religious Support Office August 9, 2011
FORT GORDON, Ga. --- On July 29, 1775 General George Washington signed the General Order authorizing the creation of the U.S. Army’s Chaplain’s and Judge Advocate General’s Corps. After 236 years, the religious and legal representatives in these groups continue to help the Army in accomplishing its mission.
The General Order established the position of one chaplain for each regiment in the pay of junior captain. Over the last 236 years, chaplain and chaplain assistants have faithfully served the Soldiers, Families, and civilians of the United States Army on and off the battlefield with the same vigor and inspiration as those first chaplains did over 200 years ago. President Washington and the Continental Congress decided early on that the Army needed spiritual guidance and the prayer of religious clergy. From the beginning, chaplains have sought to help Soldiers and Families deal with the difficulties of Army life. This is reflected in our motto “For God and country - pro deo et patria.”
The creation of Judge Advocates and the JAG Department, now the JAG Corps, can be traced back to the earliest days of our nation. The JAG Corps was especially important and had the greatest numbers during times of war, with Congress regularly appointing duty Judge Advocates during the Revolutionary and Civil War, World War I and World War II. The number of JAGs was often drawn down after these conflicts, although the responsibilities and roles of the officers continued to expand. Today JAG officers work mostly in the areas of criminal defense and prosecution, administrative law, contracts, real estate claims, operational law and legal assistance. In addition to these areas JAG officers have commanded units, while earnings awards and suffering losses along the way. JAG officers are sent wherever the Army is to advise commanders and maintain the presence of law and justice.
On July 28 the Fort Gordon community celebrated the Chaplain and Judge Advocate General’s birthday with a cake cutting in the Café Conference of the Signal Towers. The cake was cut by Chaplain (Col.) Craig N. Wiley, and Pfc. Dominique Carbajal from the Chaplain’s Corps and Col. Michael W. Hoadley and Pfc. George T. Hendricks from the JAG Corps.