Chaplain Corps celebrates 241st anniversary

| August 12, 2016 | 0 Comments
The historic Wheel Chapel as it looks today. (Courtesy of Master Sgt. Stephen Chinen)

The historic chapel at Wheeler Army Airfield. (Photo by Master Sgt. Stephen Chinen)

Story and photo by Cpl. Jin Sang Woo
U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan

Unit ministry teams and chaplains celebrated the 241st anniversary of the Chaplain Corps, July 29.

“As long as armies have existed, military chaplains have served alongside Soldiers, providing for their spiritual needs, working to improve morale and aiding the wounded,” said Capt. Lee W. Chae, chaplain of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, Eighth Army.

“The Bible tells of the early Israelites bringing their priests into battle with them. Pagan priests accompanied the Roman legions during their conquests,” he said. “As Christianity became the predominant religion of the Roman Empire, Christian chaplains administered to Roman soldiers. In fact, the word chaplain is derived from cappa, the Latin word for cloak.”

According to Capt. Lee, the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps is the one of the oldest and smallest branches of the Army. The Chaplain Corps dates back to July 29, 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized one chaplain for each regiment of the Continental regiments. Many military regiments counted chaplains among their ranks.

Since the Independence War, chaplains have served in every American war. Over that period, the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps has evolved, with the addition of Roman Catholic chaplains in the Mexican War, and Jewish and African-American chaplains during the Civil War.

The position of chaplain assistant was created to support the work of chaplains. In January 1979, the Army commissioned its first female chaplain. Today, more than 2700 chaplains serve the total Army representing 140 different religious organizations.

While their duties are primarily focused on spiritual and moral issues, many chaplains have also demonstrated tremendous bravery. There are many stories of chaplains administering the last rites to fallen Soldiers, oblivious to the fire around them, or dashing out into the open to rescue the wounded without any regard for their own lives.

Nearly 300 Army chaplains have laid down their lives in battle, and seven members of the Chaplain Corps have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

(Editor’s note: Woo works with Installation Management Command at Yongsan.)

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Category: Army News Service, News

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