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NEWS | Jan. 19, 2011

From Air Force to Navy: Chaplain Quay, an asset to Joint Base Charleston

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer R. Hudson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

At first glance, Navy Chaplain Lt. j.g. John Quay may seem young and inexperienced, but don't be fooled by his youthful looks. This 48-year-old, 12-year military veteran from Myerstown, Pa. brings loads of experience and tons of wisdom to the table for many Sailors and Airmen throughout Joint Base Charleston.

After serving with the United States Air Force for 12 years, Chaplain Quay separated in 1992 to follow his calling as a pastor at a local church. Ordained in 1995, Chaplain Quay spent the next 15 years faithfully preaching the word of God.

In 2010, Chaplain Quay found himself answering a different call, one that led him to joining the United States Navy Chaplain Corps this past August.

"I love it. I wouldn't do anything else. I feel that this job is my calling from God," Chaplain Quay explained. "I enjoyed being a pastor at a local church, but after a long period of time I started to feel compassion toward our military members that were out there defending our country. I saw that by coming back to the military it would be a great opportunity for me to touch the lives of our service men and women."

Due to age restrictions in the other military branches, Chaplain Quay received his commission through the Navy.

"The cut-off age for the Air Force was 35-years old, so if you do the math you know I don't quite meet that requirement," he said laughing. "But, I really enjoy the Navy. There are some great opportunities and we have such a wide variety of ministries. As a Navy Chaplain, I can serve on a ship or on land, I can work with a Marine unit or even a Coast Guard unit, so I really look forward to that.

"There is plenty of work for me to do here and I will help where ever I am needed," Chaplain Quay continued.

"I think that being prior Air Force has been helpful. I can look at a situation in both aspects and I think I have a better understanding of what the two sides may be feeling," he said. "There are still a few acronyms in the Navy that catch me off guard, so there is still a learning curve for me -- being that I am a fairly new officer."

Although new to the Navy and the Chaplain Corps, Chaplain Quay's presence has already made an impact on Sailors at JB CHS - WS.

"With 12 years prior service, I believe that makes him an invaluable asset as a leader here at the WS," said Religious Program Specialist Chief Stephen Walz, the leading chief petty officer at the All Saint's Chapel at Naval Support Activity, JB CHS - WS. "I think he is an incredible chaplain, simply because he listens to people and can relate to them and understands where they are at in their lives, whether they are an officer or enlisted. I'm excited to see what he is going to do during his tour here.

"I think anybody that goes into the officer ranks with enlisted experience has a great deal to offer junior Sailors and Airmen," said RPC Walz.

According to Chaplain Quay, transition from the Air Force to the Navy has been fairly easy and knowing the backgrounds of both branches has given him the 'upper-hand' in some cases.

"I get a little ribbing on the Navy side for being prior Air Force, but I feel like I've been received well. I just love being part of the Navy and the Chaplin Corps. Being at a Joint Base with Navy and Air Force people provides me the opportunity to help in any way that I can," said Chaplain Quay. "It's just a great opportunity. I don't think its coincidence at all that God has me here."