Archive for August 2013

Nominating Committee at Work

Nominating Committee at Work

 The USACCRA Nominating Committee is working the slate of officers and directors at large for the upcoming election.  The Committee wants to give a big THANK YOU to the members who have volunteered to serve.  Now it is a matter of making sure we have at least one person matched to each position come election time.  There are twelve positions to fill which begin serving in January 2014.  In order to prevent the entire Board of Directors from changing at once, four positions will serve one year, four two years and four three years.  Eventually, all terms of office will be three years.  The Nomination Committee welcomes any input.  If you have a suggestion or just want more information, please email



                Members of USACCRA are getting together informally three or four times a year as local chapters.  A chapter can be formed anywhere several members are within easy driving distance and whenever a volunteer will assume responsibility to set the place, date, and time for it.

We are finding that areas near Army installations are especially fruitful, since retirees often locate in those places.  Furthermore, with the cooperation of the Garrison Chaplain on the installation, active duty UMT members can be encouraged to participate, allowing interaction between generations of UMTs.

Below are locations where local chapters are at some point in the process of organizing.  Some are going full steam; others are just now forming.  But anyone interested in becoming involved may learn how to join a local chapter in your area by contacting the person identified as the convener.

Alabama, East Chapter           Tom Smith, Oxford

Arizona Chapter                      Roy Ludlow, Tucson

Atlanta, North Chapter           Wil Parker, Smyrna

Atlanta, South Chapter           Larry Toelstede, Jonesboro

Fort Benning Chapter             Ron Smith, Columbus

Fort Campbell Chapter           Roger Heath, Clarksville

Fort Knox Chapter                   Jack Morrison, Elizabethtown

Michigan Chapter                   Herm Keizer, Caledonia; Jay Ellens, Farmington Hills

Pennsylvania Chapter             Grover DeVault, Lancaster

San Antonio Chapter               Will Peacock, Ron Bowren, Kim Casey, Nancy Moore

Twin Cities Chapter                George Schwantes, Burnsville

Washington Chapter               Susan Dahl, Donna Weddle, Eric Weston

Obviously, there is much potential to organize a chapter near other installations.  All that is lacking is a volunteer to coordinate the process.  For information on volunteering, just contact Tom Smith at  He will provide you a list of some of the people known to be living in that area with e-mails and phone numbers.  He will offer suggestions on how others have had success in moving ahead.

The bonds that form in these small groups are extremely supportive. The stories old-timers can tell the active duty folks are often humorous, and the updates from the active duty and active reserve folks are often fascinating to the retirees.

In short, the benefits that come from this interaction far outweigh the initiative required to get it started.  Try it; you’ll like it.

Prayer Requests

Ann walker, wife of Chaplain Conrad “Connie” Walker for Cancer surgery. (Could maybe put Cancer – Colan removal). Cards may be sent to 14811 SWALE in SAN ANTONIO, TX 78248
Chaplain Jim Shaw on the death of his 15 year old Great Grandson Caleb,Martin in  a traffic accident in Hobbs, NM. Cards may be sent to Chaplain Shaw at 101 Branding Iron Cove in GEORGETOWN, TX 78633-4885

Happy 65th Anniversary to our Directors of Religious Education!

1235467_510874005654632_1209601708_nHappy 65th Anniversary to our Directors of Religious Education! DREs provide the Army Chaplain Corps with professional subject matter expertise in meeting the Faith Formation and Religious Education needs of Soldiers and their Families. Directors of Religious Education are there to support the Chaplain Corps mission to provide for the USC Title 10 rights of Soldiers to have an opportunity to express their faith in a free and supportive manner. This right extends to the religious development of each Soldier and their Family. Because DREs are civilian staff, they also provide critical continuity of care as military members are constantly moved and deployed. Important to all religious programs is the volunteer worker; DREs provide all elements of volunteer background checks, administration, placement and training for the Army Chaplain Corps.

US Army Religious Education facts:
– Our first recorded Director of Religious Education was E. (Emma) Bryan Johnson at Fort Bragg in 1948.
– The longest serving DRE, Mr. Charlie Spears served at Fort Monmouth for 39 years. He is now retired.
– The oldest DRE is still active at Aberdeen Proving Ground: Ms. Gerri Merkel!
– Most senior DRE currently serving is Dr. Dennis Scheck (38 years of service as of 2013).

Join the fellowship and mission of USACCRA by selecting your GS grade below:

GS 1-4

GS 5-6

GS 7-11


We look forward to our continued partnership.




Chaplain (COL) Eric Wester, USA RET sent the following:  The USACCRA DC Chapter was well represented Friday, July 26th at a series of events on Fort Myer and Arlington National Cemetery.  More than a dozen chaplaincy personnel from USACCRA plus several spouses attended a chapel ceremony at Memorial Chapel.  We joined more than 200 others including dignitaries recognizing Chaplain Emil Kapaun.  Three members of Father Kapaun’s POW and infantry units attended the ceremony as well as the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns, prayers at Chaplains Hill, and a luncheon featuring the 18th Chief of Chaplains, Matt Zimmerman.

The US Army Chief of Chaplains hosted the series of events to mark the 238th anniversary of the Chaplains Corps.  The Army Chaplaincy Sergeant Major, the present Chief of Chaplains and Chaplain (Major General, Retired) Matt Zimmerman addressed several highlights of chaplaincy ministry.  Earlier this year, President Barack Obama presented the nation’s highest military decoration to survivors of Chaplain (CPT) Emil Kapaun, the Army chaplain who died as a Prisoner of chaplain_anniversary_2013War in North Korea, July 23rd 1951.  He gave his life, his food and water, and his ministry providing spiritual care of those he called, “his boys.”

One “take away” from the inspirational remarks of Chaplain Zimmerman.  “Of three gifts of Chaplain Kapaun to those he served and to all of us, the first was his ministry of encouragement.  Not only did Father Emil visit men in their huts [in the POW camp], he offered prayer and hope in God as an encouragement to those who were captured.  His example of prayer and hope in all circumstances is an encouragement to all of us, as well.”usaccra_members_join_procession_with_chaplains_and_families___tomb_of_the_unknown_to_chaplains_hill

Ed Parton

Ed Parton writes:  I am engaged in church activities, the Church of Christ Disciples, Hope Worldwide Africa and Cambodia,  I will be going on a mission trip to Cambodia in November 2013.  Ed lives in Marietta, GA.  His email address is:

George Harris

George Harris writes:  I am currently working with a Yale Divinity School classmate who is ministering to a congregation in Stuart, FL and provides a deep commitment to teaching members critical thinking of the Bible as well as other faiths. He has coordinated meetings with the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu communities. Chaplains have always been ecumenical in their thinking as they provide ministry to all within their units. George currently lives in Jensen Beach, Florida.  His email address is:

Atlanta Chapter


Top row:  Knox Herndon, Tom Smith, Ji, and Vicki Nesmith, Buddy and Donna Craven, Tom Prost, Alice and John Frasier, Dee Herndon and Dave Zimmer

Bottom row:  Larry and Joey Toelstede, Bonnie Crawford, Mary Thompson, Becky Rogers, Helga and Bill Daniels

Had a great fellowship renewing friendship and reliving past experiences.  Talked about the upcoming reunion in Sep 2014 here in Atlanta.  Also, prayed for Herb Kitchens and Angel Ramos, who are both going through cancer treatments.

Tony Thompson (Mary’s husband took the photo.

Help Needed

Coordinator of C2C Volunteers

We need a coordinator for the C2C Volunteer Team.  It requires a working knowledge of spreadsheets.  The coordinator will receive the application form, transfer some of the data (name, address, and contact information) to a spreadsheet, and store the application forms in a file.  Once we are operational, you will provide the data to the appropriate family life chaplain at the installations. The family life chaplain will assign the volunteers as the Shepherds and Elders to mentor our serving chaplains and chaplain assistants. If you are interested in serving as the coordinator, contact GT Gunhus at .

Coordinator for “Where are You Now”

One of our efforts to provide information to you about our Chaplain Corps Family is the “Where are You Now” (Formerly Ministry Report) on our website.  Essentially, individual can click on the “Where are Now” page, fill in a form and it is sent to the USACCRA Director of Communications. He will pass the form to the coordinator, who will consolidate the input to be place on the association blog. It might take a couple of hours a week, depending on how much input is received.  If you are interested in doing this, contact GT Gunhus at


Billy W. (Bill) Libby

Billy W. (Bill) Libby writes:  I continue to teach an adult Sunday School class at St. Paul United Methodist Church which is called the “Pathfinders” and began as a class of RVN vets and their spouses. In recent years we have added veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as adult children of veterans. Several class members were in RVN while I was there, but we did not know one another there. For a number of years, I have been active in the 101st Airborne Association, attending annual national meetings and writing articles for the Association magazine The Screaming Eagle. Known as a veteran here in town, I am also periodically called upon for weddings and funerals. For example, last Fall I was asked to conduct a funeral for an Air Force retiree who had served in Viet Nam and Thailand. In a few weeks I will perform the wedding of his grown son. For 18 years I have also taught Old Testament at McMurry University, a Methodist liberal arts college here in Abilene. Because I also take students to Israel and Jordan for archaeological work and study groups, the classes are usually full.Billy lives in Abilene, Texas.  Email address is: