Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chaplain Candidates visit Barksdale

by Master Sgt. Jeff Walston
307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Lt. Col. James Marks, commander of the 917th Operations Support Flight, briefs a group of Chaplain Candidates about the A-10 Thunderbolt II, during their visit to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., July 31, 2012. A briefing on the A-10 Thunderbolt II was part of The Chaplain Candidate Intensive Internship program's visit to Barksdale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Betty Stephens) Hi-res

Note: Pictured is A-10C ... "RED HER" from the 47th Fighter Squadron with NutRIALIZER ladder door art.

8/6/2012 - Barksdale AFB, La. -- Air Force Chaplain Candidates were exposed to the B-52 Stratofortress lifestyle during their visit to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., from July 27 to Aug 2, 2012.

Barksdale was the second stop for the 28 candidates as part of The Chaplain Candidate Intensive Internship, which is a program designed to provide a structured opportunity for students to test their call and suitability for service as Air Force chaplains. The program exposes the candidates to what the Air Force is all about.

"Chaplain Candidates are college graduates who have completed their first year of study at an accredited theological seminary, said Chaplain, Maj. Kenneth Brown, 307th Bomb Wing. "For the next two summers they will serve with a Regular Air Force chapel team for five weeks of ministry training."

During their time at Barksdale, the candidates attended briefings on the Air Force Global Strike Command mission, static displays of the A-10 Thunderbolt II and B-52 Stratofortress aircraft with briefings on their military mission. They also participated in various chapel services and spoke with numerous commanders and first sergeants, to gain information from their perspectives.

One of the highlights of the Barksdale experience was a visit to Claiborne Target and Gunnery Range in Alexandria to observe the A-10 target practice.

The days at Barksdale were long, but at the end of each day time was set aside for the candidates to gather and reflect on their experience and lessons of the day.

While the candidates reflected on their experiences from the day, members of the 307th Chaplain's Office were coordinating and finalizing the next day's events for their guests. For Tech. Sgt. Moana Moore, a chaplain's assistant assigned to the 307 BW, it was all new.

"This was the first time I had a role in helping to coordinate a chaplain candidate tour," said Moore. "Although I had a small part, it was exciting for me to participate in this process. I was impressed with the efficiency and eagerness in which others responded to the call and provided learning opportunities for this team of candidates."

"It's my hope that the candidates gained a better understanding of the different aspects of ministry in the military and that they will be better prepared to minister to the men and women of the armed forces in whatever capacity they chose to serve," she said. "It was exciting for me to interact with this kind and varied group of officers. Truly I was blessed for having known them and playing this small part in their lives."

Not all has been fun and games for the Chaplain Candidates. There is a reason why the program exposes them to a wide range of Total Air Force missions and capabilities, as well as ministries.

"This is a time of mutual evaluation for both the Air Force and the candidates. They come to us with a variety of backgrounds, some having prior military experience and others with none," said Brown. "At the end of three years, if deemed qualified, a candidate will have the option to join the Air Force, via Reserve, Air Guard, or Regular Air Force."

"While part of military chaplaincy is akin to civilian ministry there are aspects of chaplain work which differ significantly from ecclesiastical ministry," he said. "There is sometimes a culture shock for the candidates when they realize what weapons do and what is required of military members. How a candidate responds to this will go a long way in determining their fitness as a military chaplain."

In addition to Barksdale, candidates in the 2012 program visited Robins Air Force Base, Ga., Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas and Joint Base Charleston, S.C., during the internship.

Source (including 15 photos)

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