Kentucky Guard celebrates 240 years of Chaplain Corps

By Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Brig. Gen. David Graetz, assistance chief of chaplains for the National Guard, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general, Chaplain (Col.) Yong Cho, state chaplain and retired Col. James Dill, former state chaplain, cut a cake celebrating 240 years of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., July 29, 2015. There are more than 1,200 chaplains serving today in the National Guard and Army Reserves. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps is one of the oldest and smallest branches of the Army and their impact on Soldiers is immeasurable. On the 240th birthday of the Chaplain Corps, the Kentucky National Guard family gathered to pay tribute to those whose faith is their mightiest weapon.

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s adjutant general joined Brig. Gen. David Graetz, the assistant chief of chaplains for the Army National Guard, Guardsmen, and friends and family for a birthday celebration in Frankfort, Ky., July 29, 2015.

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Retired Col. James DIll, former senior Army chaplain for the Kentucky National Guard speaks during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., celebrating 240 years of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps, July 29, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“Our chaplains are an invaluable resource to commanders and Soldiers alike,” said Tonini. “I encourage all our Guardsmen to get to know their chaplains, tell them what you need and discover for yourself the vast resource he or she can bring to the mission.”

There are 20 chaplains serving the Kentucky Guard with 10 chaplain assistants to reach the more than 8,000 Citizen-Soldiers across the commonwealth. There are roughly 1,200 chaplains in the Army’s reserve components and 1,300 in the active duty, representing five major faiths (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist) and more than 120 denominations.

“The 240th United States Army Chaplain Birthday celebration highlights the service, sacrifice, and diversity of our Corps,” said Chaplain (Col.) Yong Cho, state chaplain for Kentucky. “I am proud of our Kentucky Army National Guard Chaplain Corps for their outstanding ministry. I am equally proud of the support we have from Maj. Gen. Tonini and the entire senior leadership.  I believe our senior leaders are committed in caring for the religious needs of all service members.”

Spc. Cheyenne Jennings serves as a religious affairs specialist and has for five years. She shares Tonini’s opinion of the chaplain corps being a valuable resource.

“It is an honor to serve alongside one of the best entities in the military,” she said. “I get to support those who support the welfare and well being of this country’s armed forces.”

In addition to a brief history of the Chaplain Corps, which dates back to Gen. George Washington’s forces during the Revolution, several displays were set up to show the reach and impact of chaplains. From religious war relics of past wars to information on the Strong Bonds program, which chaplains arrange and conduct, Kentucky’s chaplains ensured those in attendance were educated and entertained by the role of the faith-guided Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard.

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Chaplains with the Kentucky National Guard discuss religious diversity with Guardsmen during the Kentucky National Guard’s Diversity Day in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 1, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“This was our first attempt of recognizing the United States Army Chaplain Corps Birthday,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Bill Draper. “I am glad the event was well attended and supported. It is important to share the story of the Chaplain Corps because it reminds Soldiers of a unique support system in place to protect their individual freedom of the free exercise of religion.”

“On behalf of the Kentucky Army National Guard Chaplain Corps, we are proud to serve America’s best. We are especially proud of our families who enable our service. May God bless each of you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”

 

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