Chaplain Serves Commander, Soldiers
(January 12, 2009)
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paul David Ondik�
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Jan. 7, 2009
Army Chaplain (Capt.) David Curry, (photo left) based out of
Kandahar, Afghanistan, with Task Force Eagle Assault, is accustomed to
multitasking. He is a member of an elite division deployed halfway around the
globe to fight terrorism. He's also a relationship counselor, an event
coordinator and senior advisor.
“There are three, maybe four hats that a chaplain wears,” Curry said. “The
chaplains fill an advisory role to the unit's commander as a member of the
commander's staff. He is a counselor to the soldiers of the unit, as well as its
Curry balances all of these responsibilities.
“Chaplains serve in every unit, and every unit's chaplains
have to learn their particular unit's vernacular,” Curry said.
A native of Louisville, Ky., Curry, 40, earned a master of divinity degree from
the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds a lot of “firsts” in his
family – he's the first to go to college, the first seminary graduate, the first
minister and the first military officer.
“I've always had a respect for soldiers and what the military does,” Curry said.
He served eight years as an Army reservist. After a six-year break that saw him
ministering in the civilian world, he and his family decided he would go back
into the Army as a chaplain. Two weeks later, a pair of passenger planes struck
the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, changing the nature of
military service immediately, radically and for the foreseeable future.
Curry spoke again with his family, knowing his service would be dramatically
different from what they previously thought it would entail. They agreed to
press on, and seven years later, he's halfway around world and happy with his
In Afghanistan, much of Curry's job involves helping soldiers communicate with
“I think it is safe to say that 70 percent [of soldiers' worries are] family
related, or that is the root problem,” said Curry. “Strong relationships are not
harmed by deployment. They only get stronger. But weak relationships are very
much in danger.”
Curry has to juggle a large number of troops and all of the issues they bring
with them. Through his skills and experience, he sees the similarities.
“You begin to see that the people are different, but the situations they're
going through are the same,” he said.
His office has developed a rhythm as the deployment has worn on and has expanded
“Those initial months after you deploy, the counselings are through the roof,”
Curry said. “The Army family, in some ways, endures more hardships than the
Those close to Curry feed off his energy.
“I've worked for four chaplains, and Chaplain Curry is by far the most
passionate,” said Army Sgt. Matt Mellott, a chaplain's assistant from Newcastle,
Pa. “He's passionate about his job, about the soldiers, and he's the
A large part of Curry's job is coordination. The coordination between himself
and his counterparts is also one of his biggest sources of pride.
“I think one of the most important things is the relationships between these
chaplains here,” he said. “That's been the most fulfilling. I think the other
thing is in the moment of tragedy, being able to be a shepherd, and leading
It all came together over Thanksgiving, when the chaplains from Kandahar
travelled out to visit soldiers at isolated bases throughout southern
Afghanistan. Curry coordinated the trip.
“We went ahead and said, ‘We're going to try to treat this like another big,
religious day,” he said, likening it to the treatment the chaplains give
Christmas or Easter.
In the past, he said, events like this had failed to come together. But this
time, the chaplains were successful, as Curry worked with his commander to
ensure that the chaplains received helicopters for the mission.
“In my 21 years [of service], he's the best chaplain I've ever met,” Army Lt.
Col. Tommy Stauss, commander of Task Force Eagle Assault, said.
From a Combined Joint Task Force
101 news release
American Forces Press Service
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