Passing the Baton

  • Published
  • By Chaplain, Maj. Brian Bohlman
  • 36th Wing Staff
Since January 2006, a total of 33 Air National Guard (ANG) chaplains and 31 chaplain assistants have proudly served as the deployed Religious Support Team (RST) here. The ANG RST is made up of a chaplain and chaplain assistant that augment the active duty chaplain staff by providing ministry to Airmen and their families, especially to those deployed to Andersen.

Over the last six years, the ANG RSTs have played a vital role in the faith community at Andersen. They contributed to winning the PACAF "Best Small Chapel" award in 2010 and spent thousands of hours visiting both deployed and permanent party alike. They have served the deployed community with encouragement, refreshment and comfort. They hosted frequent office visitors due to their hospitality ministry. They provided thousands of deployed and unaccompanied personnel with a weekly dinner meal and a movie night at the Chapel Lighthouse. They preached hundreds of sermons, led countless Bible studies, pastored a variety of congregations, sponsored dozens of island tours and gave thousands of counseling hours to the Andersen community. In short, our predecessors in the National Guard Chaplain Corps have fulfilled our vision statement "to provide spiritual strength wherever needed, whenever required."

Last month it was announced that the ANG will no longer be funded to fill the deployed RST position at Andersen. As a result, we will be the last ANG team to serve at Andersen when our tour ends. We will redeploy to our ANG units in South Carolina and North Dakota in early April. However, we are proud to pass the baton to an active duty chaplain and chaplain assistant who will carry on the ministry to the Andersen community. Please welcome the new RST when they arrive. The deployed chaplain office will remain in the 36th Maintenance Squadron, Building 18006.

It has been a blessing to serve alongside you during our tour and we will miss all of the wonderful friends we made while here. In reflecting on her tour of duty at Andersen, Master Sgt. Shasky said, "The flightline is truly the arena in which the deployed Airmen are very grateful to see us come with beverages. These service members show great dedication to their jobs and providing them with a nice cold beverage out there on the sweltering hot runway gives me great pleasure and appreciation for what they do."

As I prepare to pass the baton to the next RST, I want to remind each of you that chaplains provide a ministry of presence, care and hope as they nurture the warrior's soul. It has been great to get away from some of the paperwork and non-stop email in order to spend quality time visiting Airmen on the flightline and in the back shop maintenance areas. During my unit visits, I often asked each Airman how their career field fit into the overall Air Force mission. The responses I received gave me a new appreciation for the professionalism and dedication of those who wear the uniform.

My prayer is that God will give each member of Team Andersen the strength to prevail in every mission that they are assigned.