The United States Navy Chaplain Corps has served as the religious guiding light for U.S. Sea Services for 231 years now by providing ministry, counseling and solace to Marines, sailors, Coast Guard personnel and merchant marines throughout the U.S. military's rich history.
Chaplains and honored guests from all across South Carolina gathered at the Fightertown Officer’s Club, Nov. 30, for the 231st Anniversary Celebration of the United States Chaplain Corps, hosted by the Air Station Chapel staff.
"This celebration gave us, the Tri-Command chaplains and chaplains from the surrounding areas, a good opportunity to come together and celebrate our 231 years of service with those we serve," said Navy Lt. Ammie Miller, the Air Station assistant command chaplain.
The event’s featured speaker was Col. Robert Lanham, the commanding officer of the Air Station and the head of the command religious program.
“I thought the highlight of the event was Colonel Lanham’s speech,” said Cmdr. Conrad Targonski, the Air Station command chaplain. “He spoke with a sense of spiritual vision of how religion and life need to go together.”
The celebration also featured a three-course dinner, a cake-cutting ceremony, a special toast to the all of the military branches and various musical pieces performed by the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Marine Band.
“I’ve really enjoyed this event, this was a wonderful chance to meet together with other chaplains and service members of the different branches,” said Air Force Maj. John Painter, a chaplain assigned to the 315th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base.
The celebration was a good opportunity for many service members to experience first-hand the history and traditions of the Navy Chaplain Corps, according to Miller.
“This was my first Navy Chaplain Corps Ball and it was a very enjoyable event,” said 1st Sgt. Eric Budde, the company first sergeant for the Special Training Company, Support Battalion, MCRD Parris Island. “I think the Chaplain Corps offers guidance that Marines or sailors are looking for; if they have a faith or not, the chaplains are still there for them.”
The Navy Chaplain Corps is unique, because unlike the Air Force or the Army, the Navy chaplains are assigned to all of the Sea Services, not just their own, according to Miller.
“For all the Sea Services, the chaplains do a phenomenal job providing service members with counseling, mentoring or just giving them a person to talk with, whether they be forward-deployed or back here on shore duty or in garrison,” said Navy Capt. Bob Brennan, the commanding officer of Naval Weapons Station Charleston. “This event was a good way for everyone to recognize everything these chaplains do for us all.”