Airman ready for next calling for faith

Story by Staff Sgt. Vicky Spesard, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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Senior Master Sgt. Billy Lain, a chaplain’s assistant with the 123ard Airlift Wing, Louisville, Kentucky, prepares for the Catholic Mass at the base November 22, 2014, as part of his normal duties. Lain, who will retire soon, is now the “chaplain” of his own church in rural Indiana. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Vicky Spesard)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky.–Senior Master Sgt. Billy Lain has been providing support to the chaplains of the 123rd Airlift Wing, Louisville, Kentucky, for the past 13 years, serving in the role of chaplains’ assistant. Now, he will have the opportunity to move from the serving side of the chapel to leading a chapel of his own.

Lain is the new pastor for the Tell City Church of Christ in Tell City, Indiana, a small town of approximately 2,000 people, where he will minister full-time upon his retirement from the Air Guard in April 2015.

Having a mechanical background in his youth, the chaplains’ corps was not Lain’s first choice of occupations in the Air Force.

“During my active duty days in 1978, I did electronic maintenance, then switched to supply during my short stint in the Army National Guard,” Lain explained. “I didn’t get to the chaplains program until after I came to the Kentucky Air Guard after an 18 year break in service.”

An occupational specialty move that Lain found challenging.

“I thought the school for this job would be a breeze compared to what I already had been through,” he said. “Boy, was I wrong.”

Lain’s duties require him to be intricately familiar with several different worship preferences recognized by the Air Force. He helps to facilitate ministry supplies needed to worship, ensures worship is accessible to Airmen and works to identify and meet the needs of the base chaplains. He has also been deployed to several different areas around the United States and overseas locations where he takes on the additional role of ensuring the safety of the chaplain he is assigned to.

“It is clearly evident how my role here has prepared me for my new job,” Lain emphasized. “My time here in the Guard has been invaluable; the life lessons, priceless.”

Invaluable service to the Guard is only one of the many reasons why Lt. Col. James Ehrman, 123rd Airlift Wing Chaplain, will miss him when Lain retires.

“Over the past years, working with Billy, we have been a team,” Ehrman said. “He has never hesitated to give support as needed. He is very humble and is ethic of service stands out. I have always thought of us as a team with a strong trust level.

“He will have no trouble going from a support role to a leadership role,” Ehrman continued. “His having been a leader here will make him a stronger leader in his church.”

Lain began his involvement in the church, which has a congregation of approximately 50 parishioners, as a volunteer, then to an elder and then into the pastoral position when the opening became available. He is currently working as the pastor now, but will completely move into the job when his duties here have ended.

“The church community has been very supportive of my role in the Air Guard and are very excited to have me come on board,” Lain explained. “I will definitely miss the involvement I have here with the people at the base, but I know there are needs on the home front as well.”

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