Former Stunt Man Makes Leap to Ministry
(July 24, 2008)
PATROL BASE MEADE, Iraq,
July 21, 2008
Army Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Light
gives a weekly sermon and is available for
counseling whenever a soldier might need it. But
he is not your ordinary chaplain.
“When I was in college, money was kind of hard
to come by, so I became a stunt guy to pay for
college,” said Light, who serves with the 101st
Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 187th
Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
In the late 1980s, Hollywood was experiencing a
writers' strike. Feeling the pinch from a lack
of work there, some of the companies in show
business took their shows on the road.
“A guy who was a stuntman
moved into town and would put on a Wild West
show while trying to obtain the contracts for
movies when they came through,” said Light, a
native of Kingspen, Tenn., and a graduate of
East Tennessee State University. “We happened to
go to the same church, and he took me under his
wing, teaching me the ropes.”
Army Chaplain (Capt.) Eric
Light, chaplain for the 101st Airborne
Division's 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry
Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, stands
outside his office on Patrol Base Meade, Iraq.
Light began working at the Wild West show,
which led to performing a few stunts for television shows
such as “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Rescue 911.” The work on
those shows paid most of his way through college. |
Following college graduation in 1993, Light quit the stunt
man life and began what he said he believed to be his true
calling, ministry. He started working with college students
in a counselor-like role at the University of Michigan, then
at the University of California State in Fullerton.
After the university's program diminished due to a lack of
funding, Light found himself without a job. He struggled to
find employment for a few years, eventually distributing a
resume with the hope someone would contact him for work.
He finally got a call, but from an unexpected place: the
“I got a call from a retired Army chaplain asking if I'd be
interested in being a chaplain in the military. I told him,
‘No,' because I wanted to work with college-age kids from 18
to 25 years old.” Light said.
“He kind of laughed at me after that statement, because
soldiers of that age make up a lot of the Army. After that,
the light bulb came on, and I knew this was what God was
calling me to do.”
Over the next 15 months, he lost 50 pounds to meet the
Army's weight standards and headed off to basic chaplains
training. After graduation, he was assigned to the 1-187th
Infantry Regiment, where he received word that he would be
deploying to Iraq.
“Getting deployed was never a problem for me,” Light said.
“All of the active-duty people in my class were getting
deployed, so I knew it was a matter of time. What good would
I be if I could not deploy with the soldiers I am here for?”
Light said he constantly is learning and trying to improve
himself as a better chaplain during his first deployment.
Recently, he had an experience that served as a confidence
“I was sitting outside reading when the company commander
came walking by and told me I was a good chaplain,” he
recalled. “For someone outside of the Chaplain Corps to
randomly come up to me and notice what I was doing, that
really proved to me that being here was the right thing and
that I was doing a good job.”
While he isn't outside the wire all the time, Light said, he
knows his job is equally as important. He must be there not
only for the soldiers who are deployed, but also for their
families back at home.
“Never in our nation's history have families had to give up
so much,” he said. “While I'm not out there on the front
line fighting, it's my job to be there for [soldiers] when
they come back. If I can help prepare these soldiers to go
back to their families, I'm doing my part.”
By Army Spc. Justin Snyder
Special to American Forces Press Service
Spc. Justin Snyder serves in the 101st Airborne Division's
3rd Brigade Combat Team public Affairs Office.
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