All U.S Navy Lt. Jeffery Tagert wanted was to be a Marine, but after some ups, downs and career changes he found the path he was supposed to be on.
“I can see God’s hand throughout (my life.) Back in 2001 going into the Marine Corps and getting all the discipline, 2005 going into the Coast Guard and getting the administrative work and how to work with people better,” said Tagert. “Now I use both of those in the Chaplain Corps.”
April 18, 2017 - U.S Navy Lt. Jeffrey Tagert is a native of Florence, Mississippi. He spent 4 years in both the Marine Corps and Coast Guard before attending New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned both his undergraduate degree and master’s degree. He is now the deputy command chaplain for Marine Corps Air Station New River. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melodie Snarr)
Tagert is a native of Florence, Mississippi. When he graduated high school he joined the Marine Corps.
“I graduated high school on a Friday and I was at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Monday. I spent four years in the Marine Corps as an Aviation Operations Specialist. Then I got out,” said Tagert. “At that point in time I realized the grass was not greener on the other side.”
Tagert wanted to go back into the Marine Corps but it wasn’t taking prior service. He tried joining every other branch but to no avail until he saw a Coast Guard recruiter.
“I was walking out of the (Army recruiting center) not thinking I was going to be able to go back in to service then I saw the Coast Guard recruiter. However, I thought he was wearing an Air Force uniform with the Navy insignia. I thought it was a case of stolen valor… I did correct him until he slowed me down to tell me he was a recruiter. He told me he was in the Coast Guard and I asked, ‘Well if there’s not a coast here, why are you here?’ He told, ‘Well I’m a recruiter.’ I asked, ‘Well I need a job, do you take prior service?’ and that’s how I ended up in the Coast Guard,” said Tagert. “I spent the next four years as a Yeoman in the Coast Guard until God called me to ministry.
He left the Coast guard to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned both his undergraduate degree and master’s degree. He then pastored two churches one in Mississippi and one in Texas. While in Texas he decided to join the Navy.
“I was pastoring a church in Marshall, Texas… It was a very small church that had been declining for about 15 years… We had made salary cuts, salary cuts and salary cuts. Ultimately I went to the Deacons and said, ‘Hey if it continues like this, I’m not going to be able to live on what you’re going to be able to pay me next year. So I’m going to find something else,’” said Tagert. “So I made a phone call and just asked about the Chaplain Corps… My thought was that God is in charge so I’ll start the process. If God wants me in the Chaplain Corps it’ll work out. If it doesn’t, he’ll close the door.”
Tagert wasn’t very sure about his decision and tried ‘closing the door’ numerous times before seeing God’s plan for him.
“God closed every other door except for the Chaplain Corps,” said Tagert. “Even to the point of I was selected to be a Chaplain and I told the Chaplain Corps I needed to pray about it first and I turned down my commission.”
Tagert received a call a few weeks later and has learned his commission was valid for one year. He could accept it at any time.
“I got a call a few weeks later saying that my commission was good for the next year if I wanted it, but by that time I had already told my endorsing agent… that I wasn’t going to use the endorsement,” said Tagert. “Two days after that they called me and said… you’re still endorsed for the next year. By that time I said, ‘Okay God. It’s obviously clear where you want me.’”
Tagert joind the Chaplain Corps in August 2016. He is now the deputy command chaplain on Marine Corps Air Station New River.
“For a long time the Chaplain Corps was a little shorthanded about sending chaplains to work with other chaplains because we had a shortage of chaplains,” said Lt. Cmdr. Raynard Allen, command chaplain at the air station. “They were sending them mostly to the operational side of the house, but we had one of the generals speak on our behalf for the need of ministry.”
About two and a half years had passed before Allen’s request was filled by Tagert. When he arrived he was able to bring a lot to the table from his past experiences.
“God sent him here and I’m so grateful for what he is able to do to help me take care of and take this ministry to the next level with his expertise and his gift that God has given to him of preaching, of teaching and of caring for our Marines and our Sailors,” said Allen. “I’m very thankful that he’s here.”
Having been a Marine before Tagert loves being able to work with them again. He values much of the dame principles to include Esprit de Corps.
“One of the things you may not here too many Chaplains talk about valuing is Esprit de Corps,” said Tagert. “I absolutely love Marines so I think the Esprit de Corps is very important because it helps Marines to belong to something greater than themselves.”