OF ADEN (NNS) -- The Military Chaplain Association announced the
recipient of its 2013 Distinguished Service Award March 22.
Lt. Karen Rector is this year's selection for the award that honors
the men and women of the military who have excelled in their core
competencies, resiliency during challenges and their ministry that
effectively addresses the spiritual and moral wounds of war.
"In a lifetime of service at sea, Chaplain Karen Rector is clearly
the best chaplain that I have sailed with," said Capt. Daniel B.
Uhls, USS Hue City commanding officer. "Chaplain of the year is a
prestigious award that is in place to recognize the service's
finest, and I don't believe anyone would have to look any further
The award will be announced in a ceremony April
10 during the Military Chaplain Association's annual banquet at the
Eisenhower Hotel in Gettysburg, Pa. Rector will be in the midst of a
deployment aboard Hue City and will not be able to attend. Upon her
return, currently scheduled for early July, her command in Mayport
plans to host an award ceremony for her.
"I truly appreciate
it considering we don't always see the fruits of our labor," said
Rector. "But my focus is on my job and the Sailors aboard the ship."
Rector said she has always felt a close connection with God, but
she has not always served as a chaplain. She originally joined the
Navy as an airframe structural mechanic.
"I had actually
joined the Navy because God wouldn't leave me alone," said Rector.
"I felt as if he was calling on me, but I wasn't sure if I
understood what he wanted me to do. So I ran even though that didn't
seem to change anything."
Rector said she tried multiple
paths in life but had never found fulfillment in her choices.
Growing up in Oakland, Ky., she played basketball, softball and ran
track in high school. After graduating from Western Kentucky
University, she enlisted in the Navy and attended boot camp in Great
It was during her first duty assignment aboard
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) when she realized she could run no
more, and her true calling was as a Navy chaplain.
Chaplain Paul, who I had run into periodically, and this night he
had come out on the flight deck wearing his flight suit," she said.
"This made me a bit curious. So I started asking him a bunch of
questions, and he replied by telling me to come down to his office
to talk about it."
Rector met Chaplain Paul and the Marine
Wing chaplain aboard at the time. They talked with her not only
about their jobs but also about what God's plan was for her. After a
few hours, Rector decided to pray and see what happened. God's
answer was that he was calling her to ministry.
people in my path to ensure I would go down this road," she said.
After receiving her commission and going through her ministry
training, Rector received orders to the Marine Air Ground Combat
Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Then she served at Combat
Logistics Battalion 3 (CLB 3) at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe
From there she deployed in support of Operation Enduring
Freedom (OEF) with the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force
Afghanistan from October 2008 to May 2009, and again in support of
OEF from October 2010 to June 2011. Upon completion of her tour with
CLB-3, Rector reported to her current assignment, CNSL Ministry
Center in Mayport, Fla. She is serving temporarily with the Hue City
for its deployment.
Aboard Hue City, Rector stays involved in
the everyday lives of the crew by organizing and leading tours and
community relations projects, and planning and participating in
steel beach picnics. She has implemented and executed more than 40
briefs covering topics such as suicide awareness, sexual assault,
personal finance and return and reunion support.
has been fully engaged in every aspect of our operations,
spearheading our efforts to reduce operational stress," said Uhls.
"She is a top-notch naval officer and chaplain. Her passion for
serving the needs of Sailors is clear and undeniable."
By Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew R. Cole
Navy News Service
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