Monday, January 12, 2009

The Chaplain

How long -- can you hear someone crying
How long -- can you hear someone dying
Before you ask yourself why?
--How Long, Jackson Browne

Q:If you’re going to make a parachute jump,
at least how high should you be?
A: Three days of steady drinking should do it
--Charley Weaver (Hollywood Squares)

Sister Christian
Oh the time has come
And you know that you're the only one
To say O.K.
--Sister Christian
, Night Ranger

This weekend Ranger met another Ranger wearing an EIB, Junior Jumpwings and Air Assault Badge
. His hair was high and tight and he wore the new Army Combat Uniform. He also was a chaplain.

This Ranger began his usual conversation with a new Ranger buddy expecting the usual outcome, but always hopeful anyway when meeting a man of the cloth.

Ranger opined that chaplains -- as non-combatants -- should neither receive nor wear Combat Action Badges since their mission was one of Christianity or godliness. Further: "Do you primarily serve God, or the Army?"

New Ranger: I serve both.
Old Ranger
: What would you do if you saw a soldier torturing a prisoner?
New Ranger
: Soldiers do not torture prisoners. We are done here -- the discussion is over.

Dismissed, without so much as a blessing. Ranger was left to ponder the exchange. He left thinking: one of these Rangers is seriously off-base.

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

a chaplain with a combat action badge? mercy.

there were many reports of chaplains who did things like man the 50s that awful morning at pearl harbor. a close friend of mine who was a navy commander (chaplain/prot) wanted to take his place on the line with us at dong ap bai. i suggested that he turn his weapon over to me, that i preferred acurrate fire to beautiful, but meaningless gestures. he understood, and was, he confessed much later on, glad to be given a pass on the actual firing.

he got his purple heart like nearly everybody else there. he also got a bronze star (with owlshit) and shared in our presidential unit citation.

but CAB, CIB on a chaplain? it ain't proper to my thinking. and that little bemedalled remf pissant probably wouldn't last to long in my AO.

Monday, January 12, 2009 at 8:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Serving Patriot said...

One wonders if Jim's probing, but oh so important question, hit a little too close to home, eh?

Kind of like asking a uniformed medical professional (especially the SERE psychiatrists) how they could serve their country and their professional ethical canons ("first, do no harm") at the same time.


Monday, January 12, 2009 at 8:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I've had one - one - decent chaplain in my entire service, and Father Jack was a chaplain by virtue of the Holy See's orders like any draftee.

I once was nearly ART15ed for getting into an argument with one of those fatheaded fundamentalist Prods that make up so much of the Army's chaplain corps. I asked him, basically, how he could stomach standing up in a tree suit and blessing the warriors while getting paid to represent the guy who said "love those who hate you".

I was straight up: war is the Devil's work, and when I was doing it I was the Devil's handiman. But how could he, a Man of God, reconcile the two?

He pretty much went off on me, I fired right back and the religious war was on!

Fuck most chaplains. If they aren't consoling the grieving and standing up for what is best in their faiths they're just another goddam war lover, IMO...

Monday, January 12, 2009 at 11:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Jim: Did you type "EIB" for "CAB"? I'm guessing yes, since that'd jive with the rest of your post, and if I recall the reg a chaplain as a non-11-series type can't wear the EIB.

Either way, what a dick. He's a trooper alright - a "garritrooper".

Monday, January 12, 2009 at 11:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

FDChief ,
The confusion is in my narrative.He has an EIB fronm prior 11b enlisted service BUT my cmts to him were ref. the CAB. I've written to this issue before.I find it irrational to have non-combatants wearing a combat type badge. It's illogical and really refutes their non-combatant staus under the GC. jim

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 10:14:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MOH's have been awarded Chaplains for extreme valor but they were heroes as non-combatants.
We had Chaplains in SF that carried weapons.! But this is questionable.Medics can carry personal firearms(pistols) to protect the woundede BUT this does not make them assault assets.
In the PWOT we've turned Medics into shooters and this is a violation of the GC's. jim jim

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 10:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I always have questioned the concept of a Chaplains Corps.Is this a separation of church and state? I believe Chaplains should be like the Red Cross-external to the machine.

I never liked Chaplains b/c they always beat me at Poker.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 10:24:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

The dead give away was the high and tight hair.Or lack of hair!

But we learned up in Maine that Ranger is too dumb to back down.Fuck em all -even the Chaplains.I wonder if the Germans had Chaplains for the troops manning the death camps.

I'll bet Chaplains visited Padillo in the brig at Charleston.God is good.GWB loves God therefore GWB is good(god)!?

The hypocracy is palpable. jim

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 10:41:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous sheerahkahn said...

"New Ranger: Soldiers do not torture prisoners. We are done here -- the discussion is over."

Two observations.

1: /facepalm at this putz

2: Ranger, why did you allow him to walk away with that disrespect to you?

For me, if I'm a chaplain (and at one time I did a stint pastoring a small church when the regular pastor had a nervous break down) and I'm challenged to account for my questionable position/actions I better damn well have a fabulous answer that shines like gold and smells like roses even though it looks like sh*t.

You called him out, and you did good, Jim. And in my not so humble opinion you keep challenging these people who pretend to be something they are not, nor are they suppose to be.

"just because he wears a collar doesn't mean he's worth a cent, or much more a dollar."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 11:44:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous BillD said...

If any of you guys went through Jump School at Benning in the 60's you might have heard of Chaplin Holland Hope. Chaplain Hope jumped into Korea with, I think, The Rakassans and ended up leading a rifle company whose officers had been killed/wounded. He was awarded, among other things, a CIB. He was very highly thought of.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 3:46:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

This Chaplin you describe is a hero and brave soldier BUThe wasn't 11B or in an Infy slot so the CIB was not authorized.Yes I'm a chicken shit SOB but I don't preach from the Bible and expect to be awarded a silver Cross for my collar.
When this man took over he was not acting as a Chaplain .This is exactly my point-either you serve God or you serve the Army.You can't serve both.Personally I view such a Chaplain as a bullshit fucker-either you believe the Christian stuff or you don't. You can't have it both ways.But maybe since he was killing yellow people it was OK with our white God.
I don't believe in God nor do I believe in Chaps being shooters., if it gets that bad pull the MLR back or move to alternate defensive positions
I know that this is not what you want to hear.
I went to Jump school in summer 68/42nd Co.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 4:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

"I wonder if the Germans had Chaplains for the troops manning the death camps."

Every German landser that took up a rifle to fight for Party and Fatherland had it right on his belt buckle: "Gott Mit Uns".

Every people and every nation that ever burned an enemy's home, killed his wife and took his land has assured themselves that God so loved them that their enemies were His. And you can bet that there was a Heavenly Host of chaplains, prelates and princes of their Church - from Christ to Mar, from Gautama to Zoroaster - singing praises and mixing the smoke of the censers with the wolftang of the powder.

If there IS a Hell, I hope those sanctimonious bastards are frying in the hottest pit of it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 2:38:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys the long absent said...

You know, we spent New Year's Eve watching a film called "Merry Christmas"...it was about the impromptu truces along the trenches of WWI, in December of 1914. At the end, the chaplain who took part in this exchange of very Christian actions, including burying the dead Germans as well as Brits and Frenchmen, was relieved. He was replaced by one who was willing to label the enemy "not like us, not thinking like us, who must be killed." And people wonder why I refuse to be conventionally religious.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 at 1:55:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I refuse to be unconventionally religous.
I missed you. You're one of the only women that stay with me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 11:25:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Range, if I had MY way I'd abolish the military clergy in ALL armies air forces and sea services.

Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 6:33:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I would not eliminate c haplais - I'd put them with the USO and allow them to administer on post.
I'd separate them from the chain of command and insure that they act as relious reps rather than cheerleaders for the system.
These people are good examples of Catch 22 activity in the military.

Friday, January 16, 2009 at 10:27:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Range, your reason for separating them into the USO is the same reason I say I'd abolish them. They're cheerleaders for the system. Though cats like Yearwood and Jack Day give me hope.

Friday, January 16, 2009 at 11:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous JuniorAG said...

"I wonder if the Germans had Chaplains for the troops manning the death camps."

If they did, they invoked Odin, not Jesus Christ. The Totenkopf SS guards were encouraged to renounce Christianity. Reichsfuher-SS Himmler intended to replace Christianity with Asatru.

The nazi symbols, SS runes, etc. are straight out of Asatru pagan faith.

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 12:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous JuniorAG said...

"Every people and every nation that ever burned an enemy's home, killed his wife and took his land has assured themselves that God so loved them that their enemies were His. And you can bet that there was a Heavenly Host of chaplains, prelates and princes of their Church - from Christ to Mar, from Gautama to Zoroaster - singing praises and mixing the smoke of the censers with the wolftang of the powder."

Yup, some peeps have killed in the name of religion, but atheists like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot have proved that lack of religious beliefs are no hinderance to mass murder, either!

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 12:07:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Junior AG,

While it is very hard to reconcile that "Christians" could commit the Nazi atrocities, in fact, that is what happened. Writings on the Christian National platform are legion.

For general overview, see http://atheism.about.com/od/adolfhitlernazigermany/Adolf_Hitler_Nazi_Germany_Christian_Nationalism_AntiSemitism.htm

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 1:53:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Jr. AG,
Your points are well taken BUT there's an argument that the people you mentioned were secular godless religion.And as such killed for ....
There's plenty of evil to go around.

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 10:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Mike Yeksavich said...

Mike Yeksavich, former Major, United States Army. I personally knew Chaplain Hope and his wife at my last duty station of Ft. Bliss, Texas. When I met Chaplain Hope he was retired and pastored a small Methodist Church within walking distance of my home, and my family and I attended his Church. He was a good, decent and godly man and his wife was a good, decent and godly woman. He was a bluff, bald headed square shaped man as I picture Paul of the Bible also was. After I left the Army and opened a law practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, until his death when I had personal issues I called Chaplain Hope. He and his wife were remarkable people in every way. The fact he was Airborne, Army pistol team and awarded the purple heart and Combat Infantry Badge tells you something about him. We will never know how many American lives he saved when he personally led a force to recover American dead and wounded. We also need to understand he led on the battle field while he was suffering from his spinal injury incurred in the parachute landing of his unit. He spent months in a hospital in Japan in recovery. He never spoke of his history, and I only learned of it from his wife when she mentioned I might read the Chaplain's portion of the 200th anniversary history of the Army. He was a true Christan and American, respected by all who knew him and I defy any to claim otherwise. He was my spirtual mentor and advisor and I miss him. America needs more like him.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 10:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Thanks for your ltr and I agree that Chaplain Hope was one hell of a soldier.Only a fool would say otherwise.
My criticism is of a system that awards Combat Action Badges to non-combatants.Same with Medics being used offensively as part of a combat team.One is either a non-combatant or a fighter- you can't be both. My memory serves that the Geneva Conventions address this issue.
A Chaplain is a man of God and a spiritual guide and becoming an asssault element leader is not in the job description.I know he was your friend and he was a good man., my comments are on the system and not derogatory to a individual .
I'm not a praying person but I offer a prayer for the Chaplain.
PS-I believe an Army and a USMC Caplain won the MOH in RVN attending to the spiritual needs of wounded soldiers in actual , fierce ground combat.They were doing God's work and their MOH's were more than called for. In fact their performance of duty inspired the infy to fight more aggressively.This is a Chaplains duty

Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 10:27:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Mike Y,

Chaplain Hope sounds like a remarkable person. I am glad you had the opportunity to know him. His humility is typical of the best.

Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 10:28:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a chaplain.

I agree, this guy was a loser. I agree, many chaplains get sucked into the system.

When I was trained, though, I was taught to be a burr under the system's saddle. I was told to confront the system when soldiers were mistreated or when they committed crimes--and to man up and bear the consequences that were sure to come. If I was in a situation like you describe, I would use my authority as an officer to call an immediate halt, and I would raise holy hell. If it didn't get moving in the system, I would take it outside the system. Yeah, my career wouldn't last long ... but I don't want an Abu Ghraib or My Lai on my conscience. My job is to advise the commander on ethics and morality, and to hold him and his soldiers accountable.

As to a CAB--the only criteria for that is that you get shot at. Chaplains do get shot at.

The regs are clear--chaplains are not to carry weapons. Yes, some guys forget that (especially those who were former enlisted and line officers).

I'm not airborne or ranger and don't have a CAB. I fight for my soldiers and I'm with them when they are in the hospital, or alone, or when a buddy dies. And I know I couldn't do my job hanging out in the rear with the USO, or with the red cross. I know I have credibility with my battalion because of my honesty, integrity, and willingness to be where my soldiers are, and endure what they endure.

Yes, there's a catch 22. The system can destroy you or co-opt you. It sees us as a tool to further its ends. But when we do our jobs right, we can be a powerful force "for God and country."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 12:40:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Chaplain/anon nov 10.
Thanks for your comments.
I served with a number of Chaplains, such as yourself.
They are rare gems.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 2:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take great personal offence to your words even now. Holland was my mothers cousin andasclose to am angel as I ever met. Ypumay remember the angels of heaven fought the demons of satainand threw them out of jeaven to earth. I think you must know them well. Holland retired and then served as a volunteet for more tjsn 20 years at Beaumont Army Hospital. That wad after Koria and Viet Nam as well asWWII. I would have given him a Medal of. Honor for lesding a rifle compsny at the Chosan Reservor to go after the dead and wounded. Youmayremember theywerebeing over run byamillionChinese. At the time. So what did you ever do hero?

Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 12:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Mike Y said...

I knew Holland Hope and his wife at Ft. Bliss, my last duty station. He pastored a church my wife and I attend a short walk from our home. He was retired from the Army but soldiered on with the church. He never talked about his service time unless asked. I learned about him because his wife tole me to check out the Chaplain's history for the 200 anniversary of the Army. I did and there he was in Korea. He reminded me of what Paul must have been like; square faced and shouldered with bald head and no nonsense about the Gospel. I returned to Tulsa to open my law practice and when I had a problem I would call him in El Paso for guidance. His wife was always as active as a bee going from here to there to do good works. Chaplain Hope was a man of God and in Korea he acted as a man of God. Left out of the story is how he was injured in the parachute jump into Korea and the months he spent in a hospital recovering. The esoteric discussion about how could a Chaplain earn the CIB is simply out of stupidity from not knowing Chaplain Hope personally.

Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 4:57:00 PM GMT-5  

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