Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course 21-002 student, Chap. (Capt.) Kelsey Underwood files by to pick up a regimental pin during the Chaplain Corps Regimental Pinning Ceremony at the Chaplain School campus on Fort Jackson Aug. 6. (Photo by Mel Slater)

By Mel Slater, Chaplain Center and School

Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course 21-002 students moved one step closer to graduation after completion of their capstone field exercise and receiving Chaplain Corps Regimental pins at the Chaplain School campus at Fort Jackson Aug. 6.

The ceremony, usually held outdoors, was held inside due to bad weather. The students had seen their fair share of bad weather while in the field. There was a misty, sprinkling of rain on the first day during the 6-mile road march out to the Chaplain School training area on Aug. 3. The rain increased for most of the morning while students settled in and prepared for their first assignment.

Just as the first phase of the training began, the rain cleared.

Over the next three days the students were challenged with tactical marches, enemy encounters, casualties, displaced villagers, nongovernmental organizations and media personnel during the training. The chaplain students also participated in hasty memorial services to honor dead and wounded.

“Capstone challenged our operational adaptability as future chaplains to provide religious support and advise the commander within an ever-changing environment,” said student, Chap. (Capt.) Kelsey Underwood. “The varied lanes at (the exercise) revealed student strengths and growth areas as they prepare to nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the fallen within large-scale combat operations.”

Chaplain School Historian, Dan Fitzpatrick also provided a lesson to the students on a major battle from World War II.

“I provided the students the background and actions taken at the Malmedy Massacre on Dec. 17, 1944. This was the historical vignette used in the Ethical Lane exercise they participated in prior to my station,” said Fitzpatrick. “After that we would have discussions on war crimes in general.”

Other Chaplain School Soldiers and civilians provided assistance as role players during the exercise as technical staff and role players and in other many ways to make the exercise a success.

Chaplain School Commandant, Chap. (Col.) James Palmer, Jr. thanked them for their participation.

“I, as the commandant, want to thank all the cadre for what they’ve done to get you all to this point,” Palmer said.

The Soldiers successfully completed the exercise and returned to the Chaplain School campus Aug. 5.The next day the students were gathered together with school cadre to participate in the pinning ceremony.

The commandant shared the significance of the pinning ceremony with the students.

“So first let me just say congratulations to each and every one of you,” Palmer said. “This pinning ceremony is a big deal. It is really significant. It says that you have met all of the requirements to become officially called Army chaplains. Matter of fact just give yourselves a round of applause.”

Palmer then welcomed the chaplain students to the Chaplain Corps Regiment.

“Really this is just a culmination of all the hard work and dedication that you have put in to reach this point.” Palmer said. “And I want to say that I am extremely proud of you and proud to be a part of your journey. This is an opportunity for us to welcome you into the Regiment.”

As part of the ceremony the students filed by a table and picked up a regimental pin and returned to the formation.

The commandant and other members of the school cadre then proceeded to place the regimental pins on the uniforms of the new members of the team.

“The regimental pinning ceremony signifies our official initiation into the proud history of the Army Chaplain Corps,” said Underwood

Soldiers from the 3/321 Reserve Training Battalion, South Carolina National Guard, also received recognition for their support of the exercise. Three Soldiers received Army Achievement Medals while nine Soldiers received coins from the commandant.

The Soldiers of the 3/321 played a number of roles during the exercise to include enemy forces, citizens of the foreign country, casualties, media reporters and NGO personnel.

“We’re all a team and we cannot make it without one another. So, I want to thank these fine Soldiers for what they’ve done to support the team to get us to this point,” Palmer said.

The newest members of the Chaplain Corps Regiment are scheduled to graduate in the post theater at 3 p.m. on Aug. 19.