Chaplains: Two nations, one team

by Staff Sgt. Franklin Ramos, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affiars
Stripes Korea

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Chaplains from both the 51st Fighter Wing and Republic of Korea Air Force conducted a joint training during Exercise Beverly Herd 17-3 on Sept. 18-21.

The exercise allowed 51st FW chaplains to train ROKAF chaplains while practicing their own skills.

“This exercise provides a great opportunity for USAF chaplains to hone, deepen and develop their skills. But even just as important is that the ROKAF chaplains are getting opportunities here that they don’t normally get,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. John Boyer, 51st Fighter Wing deputy wing chaplain. “This is new for them in many ways, so they’re getting an opportunity to work alongside us and with us to get some great training.”

The chaplains trained on how to provide care in combative environments.

“They’ll see how we triage patients at the 51st Medical Group and how we provide ministry to those individuals,” said Boyer. “[Showing them] our priority of who gets seen first and how we go about caring for those individuals spiritually when they’re wounded.”

Working together helps strengthen ties between ROKAF and USAF forces.

“We put an importance on our partnership with the ROKAF chaplains, which is a priority for us to build those capabilities,” said Boyer. “If a war were to kick off and we had to go to war, we would do it together. Part of the way we go together is learning how to fight together and how to spiritually care for people in a war environment.”

They also went over how to provide ministry to individuals who may have suicidal thoughts or conscientious objectors.

“[We have the] responsibility of taking care of the spiritual health of our military people,” said ROKAF Chaplain Maj. Ka, Kwang Myung, ROKAF Headquarters Office of Chaplains Corps planning chaplain. “It is very important to increase our spiritual combat power [together]. So sharing our experience through joint exercises will develop a better understanding of each other within the chaplain’s corps.”

Beverly Herd 17-3 allowed the chaplains to work together through a crisis. However, the ROKAF and 51st FW chaplains have been training together whenever possible.

“We’ve been doing something at least once every month,” said Boyer. “This is a priority for us in strengthening these capabilities [between us].”

Ka, Kwang Myung added, “Doing this joint exercise, I realize why chaplains should be here and why we are needed. With this threat from North Korea, we need to focus on taking care of our military. I think in this environment the most important thing is a very strong alliance between ROKAF and USAF.”

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