Military Connection: An Incredible Hero: By Debbie Gregory

Maj. CulbrethAn Army Chaplain is displaying exemplary valor and stalwart resolve in her third battle against cancer. Maj. Melissa Culbreth, brigade chaplain for North Carolina National Guard’s 449th Theater Aviation Brigade, knows all about the battle. She has fought cancer before. She knows what she is up against. This brave hero is taking the fight with her third bout of cancer on her own terms, and she’s starting with a party… of sorts.

On a Sunday in October, on a farm in Franklington, North Carolina, the major had her fiery red hair woven into several braids. The braids were then cut off and the rest of her hair was shaved.

“I wanted to take my hair on my own terms, instead of letting the chemo take it,” Maj. Culbreth said.

This was the second time that Culbreth has thrown a head-shaving party. The first time was back in March, 2010, when she was less than two months removed from returning home from a deployment to Iraq with the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team. At that party 17 people, including comrades and friends, shaved their heads in support of Culberth and her fight. This time around, more than 30 people shaved their heads.

Chaplains are supposed to be there when their soldiers need them. But the turnout of supporters shows the family atmosphere among military personnel, and how every member does their part when called upon to do so.

The fight that the Chaplain now faces is uncertain, but it is certainly winnable. After all, she has beaten cancer twice already. But with the steely demeanor of a battle-hardened warrior, the chaplain faces the anticipation of another round of chemotherapy.

“I know what chemo is like, because I’ve done it,” the chaplain said. “To know I’m going to be doing that again, and going through all the side effects. Again. Right now, that’s probably the hardest part.”

The staff at would like to send our best wishes and prayers to Maj. Culbreth. Her story really hits home for us as our CEO Debbie Gregory is also a breast cancer survivor. We know that the chaplain will win this fight as she has before. And with her attitude, she will inspire an Army in the process.

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Military Connection: An Incredible Hero: By Debbie Gregory