Joint Base Charleston


A present help in time of trouble

By 379th Air Expeditionary Wing | Chaplain's Office | November 01, 2010

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- As he does daily, the night shift passenger terminal chaplain was visiting emergency leave transient passengers.

It was a typical night. It was during the early morning hours when the chaplain met 10 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Department of Defense civilians from throughout our area of responsibility.

They were busily processing their paperwork, changing into civilian attire for airline travel back home and calling loved ones for last minute communications. Those who were finished with preparations, sat to await transportation, watching the ball game on TV or dozing off for a nap into a reclining chair.

The chaplain quietly visited each of the travelling passengers individually and heard their stories. A DOD civilian told him, "Chaplain, I just lost my sister in a car accident. I was told that she died instantly. Fortunately, my nieces weren't with her. But how is my brother-in-law going to raise those little girls?"

One Soldier relayed, "My mother just died." He choked up as he continued, "Chaplain, it was sudden, I wasn't expecting it. I still can't believe it. To make things worse, I just lost my best friend three days ago to an improvised explosive device. I was there when the helicopter took him away. They told me he died in the chopper before reaching the hospital." The conversation revealed that the chaplain had prayed over the casket of his best friend.

The visits continued. A Sailor told the chaplain, "My wife is having emergency surgery. I've been serving for 32 years and have never taken emergency leave. My wife needs me now. It's time for me to make time for her."

An Airman said with solemn shock on his face, "My father just killed himself. We used to be close. But it's been years since we've really spent time together. Now he's gone. I just can't believe it. It feels like a nightmare."

A Marine told the chaplain, "My five-month-old son just died. They think it was sudden infant death syndrome." The chaplain asked, "What is your son's name?" The Marine shared his boy's name. The chaplain's heart stopped beating for a second. The chaplain has a son with the same name. The Marine continued, "I don't know how I'm going to tell his four-year-old sister. I had so many dreams for my son. I can't understand it ... but I'm choosing to trust God."

Time was up as the passengers needed to depart. The chaplain helped the young Marine carry his stuff to the transporter. As he entered, the young man said, "Chaplain, my father is a pastor. I really appreciate your visit. Please remember to say a prayer tonight for my family." The chaplain replied with tears in his eyes, "Son, I'm already praying and will continue to pray for your family."

The emergency leave passengers were whisked away as the chaplain walked back saddened by the suffering he had witnessed and disappointed that he had run out of time to pray aloud one-on-one with the young man who had lost his baby.

He looked up and saw a man that he had prayed with a few weeks ago. He was returning from emergency leave.

"Chaplain, it's good to see you again. I wanted to say, thank you. You prayed for me to be able to see my dying brother alive. He wasn't supposed to live long enough to see me arrive.

"I want you to know that I did get to spend five precious hours with my dying brother as he left this world. When I told him that I was there he squeezed my hand and a tear came down his cheek. Later, the 'Doc' told me that he should have died 72 hours prior to my arrival. I want you to know that God is a present help in time of trouble and he heard our prayer."

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