By Debbie Gregory.
Once again, our National Guard is hard at work supporting local agencies in the clean-up of the devastating tornado that rocked Moore, Oklahoma. Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen, as well as a group of military chaplains, are on scene to help the people of Moore deal with losses of life and property.
Soldiers and airmen are supporting local agencies and others who have answered the call to help, including volunteers and first responders, all working diligently to serve the community.
The area called “tornado alley” is aptly named. The Midwest region is no stranger to dealing with severe weather. Heavy snow and ice cover the ground in the winter, and the spring and summer months see thunderstorms and deadly tornados.
The recent string of storms that have swept the towns of Newcastle, Moore, Oklahoma City, and Shawnee have caused devastation, resulting in hundreds of displaced families and numerous deaths.
Chaplains were on hand to provide help to the physically drained and spiritually shaken residents. The chaplains are also providing spiritual assistance to the National Guard personnel who are helping with the relief effort in Moore.
A team of five chaplains is working in shifts, traveling between check-points and meeting with Guard personnel throughout the disaster zone, to speak with them about the horrific sights on the ground.
Chaplain (Captain) Jeremy Dunn battalion for the 700th Support Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade and Chaplain (Captain) David Jordan, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry, 45th IBCT are working as a ministry of presence.
Jordan and others move from location to location, meeting with a mix of Army and Air National Guard personnel. Their jobs include meeting with Airmen and Soldiers, breaking the ice, and getting them to open up and speak about their feelings.
We all deal with tragedy differently. The chaplain’s duty is to help those who are suffering, physically or spiritually, find peace. Many of the Airmen and Guardsmen are from the devastated areas, or have friends and family from the area.
Specialist James Kimball, an Army National Guard Soldier, grew up in Moore, and his family still lives there. He was grateful that the chaplains came to the area to make sure that everyone was okay. The chaplains listen to the servicemembers’ concerns about the disaster, and help them cope.