By Linda LoebachJuly 20, 2012
HAWTHORNE ARMY DEPOT, Nev.--1st Lt. Daniel Leiter, of the 329th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army Reserves is a chaplain working behind the scenes at Hawthorne Army Depot during Operation Golden Cargo.
For the last 21 years, Operation Golden Cargo has served as a national, functional exercise that links Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers with real-world ammunition logistics operations and training opportunities, while providing support to the Army's Joint Munitions Command with ammunition requirements.
For two weeks in the summer, Soldiers complete annual training requirements by successfully moving full loads of live ammunition over long distances. Troops perform job duties that give them a sense of a mission accomplished and the training they receive is rarely found outside of theater.
Leiter moves quietly behind the busy operations, providing religious accommodation to the Soldiers.
"I'm a voice for them with the command," he said.
Chaplain Leiter counsels Soldiers on their mission, personality conflicts or family issues. Anything they want to talk about with him is kept confidential.
During Golden Cargo, Leiter holds open office hours in the morning and visits work sites in the afternoon. He checks on morale and talks with soldiers to see if they have everything they need.
Leiter conducts a Protestant service midweek and Sundays during Golden Cargo. On Saturdays, he transports Catholic soldiers to the town of Hawthorne, Nev., for a service.
If a Soldier happens to be of the Jewish, Budhist, Hindu or Muslim faiths, their religious services may be outsourced. Or, a Soldier who can serve as a leader may conduct a service and the chaplain will provide space, supplies and support for them.
In his civilian life, Leiter lives in Kansas City, Mo., and works in sales and marketing, but eventually would like to move toward a career as a hospital chaplain.
During Operation Golden Cargo, Leiter had some visitors. A fellow chaplain, 1st Lt. Patrick Bracken and Chaplain Assistant Sgt. Eduardo Boro stopped by to see operations at HWAD.
They expressed sentiments similar to Leiter's.
"We are here to support others' faith. We do not try to convert anyone to our particular, personal belief," said Boro, who is from Des Moines, Iowa, and just graduated from college with a degree in History.
"I may never see any of these soldiers again, but I know a 10 minute conversation with one may make a difference in his or her life," said Bracken, a hospice chaplain and youth minister in Omaha, Neb.
These caring men are committed to serving the religious needs of the Soldiers of Operation Golden Cargo and the Soldiers are thankful to have them here during this annual training.