Archive for President USACCRA

In Memory Chaplain (MG) G.T. Gunhus (US Army Retired)

In Memory

Chaplain (MG) G.T. Gunhus (US Army Retired)


Many of us have our own memories of G.T. and I hope that we will all value and share those memories with each other and with the chaplains coming into the Corps. G.T. served in many very significant and important positions in the Army, including being our Chief. He always was a leader and his voice was a valued one in the meeting of the senior chaplains. He knew the importance of these fora in the leadership of the Corps. He kept these meeting going when he became Chief and used the senior leaders of the Corps to form a vision of the Chaplain Family.

            The Chaplains Corps has come through some important milestones during his career. The Chaplains Corps helped the Army recover from the war in Vietnam to become the finest Armed Force in the world. We have been there to help the Army in our engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq and we were with them in combat and in returning from deployments. We have seen our existence challenged and have worked through some internal crises like prayer and homosexuality. G.T. had a leadership role in all of these and more. In it all, he had concern for the chaplain family and doing things to strengthen our bonds together.

            The one thing that I remember most about G.T. was his desire to help young chaplains by setting up mentoring programs for them. This was the biggest sense of calling as he approached retirement. I remember his getting a contract to set up a mentoring program for the Chaplain Candidates. He and Hugh Dukes worked hard to make this program work. G.T. gave the clarion call to the retired community to use their experience to make the Candidate ready and more competent upon entry into the Service. Hugh managed the program and G.T. was indebted to Hugh for his work and dedication to helping G.T. realize his dream. I remember being able to mentor Candidates from my denomination and others is the Michigan area. I still keep in communication with several of these. G.T. was thankful to all who became mentors.

            Then we all were impressed and thankful for the first Chaplain Reunion and the work John Scott and his team did in organizing that event. G.T. wanted to keep that reunion and to expand it to include the entire Army Chaplain Family to keep it healthy, courageous and spiritually fit. This year, we will celebrate our 8th Biannual Chaplain Family Reunion in San Antonio, TX. The planning effort for this reunion is being led by a retired DRE, Kim Casey. G.T. was very happy about that. He was always filled with ideas for the reunion and worked hard to make them successful.

            The mechanism that was put in place to coordinate all of these efforts was the United States Army Chaplain Corps Regimental Association. G.T. led a group of Chaplains to bring about the birth of this organization. He expanded the vision of the USACCRA to include all active and retired Chaplains, Chaplain Assistants, the Reserve components, the Directors of Religious Education, the widows and widowers and the civilians who worked to support the chaplains. Each year USACCRA has become better organized and better in communicating with the chaplains’ family. G.T. was always generous with his advice to the President and the Board. We all were aware of his dedication because he showed up at our meetings even when it was an effort to do so. He was living out his calling to continue to serve God and the chaplaincy.

He never stopped his concern for mentoring and the C2C program was his latest planning in this long list of efforts. The OP TEMPO of the Army in the past few years makes mentoring difficult, but G.T. did not give up and continued to coordinate with the Chief of Chaplains to keep mentoring alive in the Branch.

I think that the greatest gift we could give to G.T. is to continue all our efforts to make the chaplain family strong and to help young chaplains succeed in the Corps so that we can best serve the Army God has called us to serve in ministry. We all say, “Thank You, G.T. for the love you showed our Chaplain Family.”

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Herman Keizer Jr.
Chaplain (COL) ret.
Former President and member of the USACCRA Board.

Drones – needed a broad ethical, moral and legal discussion

The first person to fire a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone in combat and destroy a target, wrote an article in Air, Strategy and Policy in November of 2014. From his experience “War is no Video Game – not even remotely.” He describes two experiences while piloting a Predator. The first instance was before the Predator was weaponized. It happened, in September 2000, when he and his sensor operator saw Osama Bin Laden, exquisitely framed on their screen. They followed him as he moved on the compound, but all they could do was watch, because at that time no Predator was armed. He regretted not being able to kill our arch-enemy.
He describes avoiding being shot down by a MIG. The evasive actions were demanding and they had to preform maneuvers as difficult as any done as a helicopter pilot. While the pilot of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft doesn’t hear the plane’s engine, feel its motion, smell the airplane smells; and while he has a joystick, throttle, and is sitting in a Ground Control Station in a Virginia parking lot viewing TV screens, mentally and emotionally he is at war.MQ-9_Reaper_taxis
His second experience was when his crew fired the first-ever intercontinental air strike by a UAV. After the missile was fired they saw a “bright white bloom of light. As the bloom dissipated, we saw an object move quickly across the screen, flailing like a rag doll tossed in the air. It was a body, twisting and contorting and glowing from the heat of the blast. Nearly a decade-and-a –half after, that fleeting image remains burned in my memory.”
That last statement re-enforced my dedication to the work I had been doing for the last 5 years. I have been working on “Moral Injury after War.” This hidden injury from war was identified by “A Truth Commission on Conscience and War,” recommending more moral and ethical research needed on ‘Selective Conscientious Objection’ to a particular conflict and the ‘Moral Injury’ resulting from Warfighting. (Google the Truth Commission to see the entire story of the Truth Commission.)
The recommendations of the Commission led to a book by Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini: Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War and the establishment of the “Soul Repair Center” at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. Rita and I were Co-founding Directors of the Center ( I retired from the Center last May.
At the Center we did research and public education on Moral Injury. One of the groups we talked to and did research on were the Drone Pilots. Many of them suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress, some experienced it as a Disorder and as a Moral Injury. I have many questions about the use of Drones and the morality of these weapons. My major concern is what the Robotization of War will do to Military Virtues.
One of the things I stressed in our Public Education efforts at the Center was that the Military is a moral system. A value system markedly different from the value system in civilian society, but a moral system non-the-less: designed to make it possible to survive on the battlefield. Some values are these: courage is the virtue we need to preserve in the face the horror of war, not allowing fear to obscure our judgment of what needs to be done in our conduct on the battlefield; (The Drone Pilot may not need physical courage, because the drone operator operates without physical risk.) but moral courage is an important value for the drone operators to enable them to make the right decisions despite some countervailing pressures and temptations in the conduct of warfighting; the value of Loyalty to the leadership and to fellow combatants; the value of being just and acting justly; the value of self-control so acts will not be deflected by passion or emotion; and the virtue of practical wisdom – a habit of sound judgment about practical situations. These values are essential in wielding the deadly force entrusted to them by the society that sends them to the field of battle.
These were some of the issues that I carried to the “Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare” at Princeton Seminary, January 23 – 25, 2015. About 150 religious leaders, scholars and community activists attended the Conference. Speakers from a wide diversity and range of expertise provided informed input to the Conference which resulted in a document with several recommendations. One impression that was most meaningful to me as a Just War adherent and as a Chaplain who served 40 years in the Army, was the disconnect between the International Laws of War from the moral tradition that helped form these laws. One very important task for the future is to rediscover the ethical basis for the international laws. We are at great risk to move from “what is” to what “ought to be.” We have tremendous potential to create automatic weapons, but should we risk deploying autonomous weapons, not controlled by human actors and moral agents?

Herman Keizer, Jr.
Chaplain (Col) US Army (retired)

Message from the President USACCRA

Dear Chaplain Family,
Last month the Board of Directors met in San Antonio to continue our planning for our reunion in 2016. We had a wonderful meeting, supported by the chaplains 4-11-2015 10-58-18 AMand chaplain assistants at Fort Sam Houston. We toured several of the hotels and selected one of the historic hotels that is located on the River Walk and very close to the Alamo. It is a fine facility and we are pleased with our decision. We also visited some of the eateries near the hotel, some great food. Kim Casey had already scoped out many of the things in the city and so that was a painless process. We also planned for the program and we have left much time for us to renew friendships and bring one another up to date with what is going on in our lives. We know that is a very important part of our getting together every other year.
We also looked at some of the lists of members and we are working hard to get an accurate list. We discussed our need for a new membership list so we can assist you in recruiting new members for the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps Regimental Association. The Board is pleased that you are joining local chapter and Tom Smith reported on the chapters in existence and chapters that are starting up. We encourage all of you to recruit new members. When you send out your holiday greeting this year, please add a plug for people to join.
We also had the privilege of sending Hal Roller off to his wedding. Some of us were able to attend the ceremony. Hal we are happy for you and your new bride. We pray for your happiness as you go into the future.
Very Sincerely,

Herman Keizer, Jr.

Greetings to all in the Chaplain Family.

4-11-2015 10-58-18 AM

Greetings to all in the Chaplain Family.

It has been a long and cold winter here in Grand Rapids. We set new records for snow and for cold, but we have a lot of experience with these winters and life goes on mostly as normal. My heart goes out to all on the East Coast, especially Boston. WOW, what a year you have had. Blessings as you thaw.

Our Association continues to support the Army Chaplaincy, with our prayers for all chaplains, assistants and Directors of Religious Education. We speak of our memories of those who served in our ranks, but have passed on to the awards that await them. (At our Convention this year, the list of names of those we remembered was very long and the reading of the names brought sorrow, thanksgiving, and a sense of pride for their service for God and Country). We praise your continuing ministry in retirement. We empathize with you both the joy and opportunity retirement offers us.

We are not an association that wants to establish a bunch of programs, but two we continue to promote are the establishment of local, regional meetings of our members with other chaplains. Under the leadership of two of the members of the Board and the hard work of local chaplains this program is growing. The members of the Chaplain Family enjoy meeting together and inviting chaplains on active duty, in the rewards and chaplains from the other services. Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do to expand this program.

The second program is close to our current Chief of Chaplains and the members of the Board, with G.T. liaising with the Chief to help us mentor active Duty Chaplains, Reserve/National Guard Chaplains, assistants, and DRE’s. We want to come along side these chaplains and befriend them, sharing our story and experience with these who now carry on the mission – Courageous in Spirit, Compassionate in Service.

I have been talking to the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am stunned by the deep grief they carry and the loss they experience: Loss of Closes friends – isolation; Loss of innocence or sense of goodness; Loss of unit discipline and the order of the Total Institution system; Loss of role/identity/purpose for others: Loss of family or capacity for intimacy – family conflict and divorce; Loss of faith and meaning in community; Loss of faith and trust in leadership – feeling of betrayal; Loss of reason/desire to live; Finally – one we chaplains do not experience, but our assistants do – Loss of a weapon – and security. We can and should empathize with this loss and grief.

We encourage you all to be recruiters for the association. If someone asks you, “What is in it for me?” One answer is the same intrinsic rewards you felt in your service as a member of the Chaplain Family.


In His and Your service,

Herman Keizer, Jr. Chaplain (COL) US Army (retired)



Happy New Year

Dear Chaplain Family,
Happy New Year or, better yet, A Blessed New Year. As a Christian, I came into the new year with the words from songs like “Peace on earth to men of good will” and “Joy to the World,” still ringing in my ears. I was looking at new opportunities for ministry, since I retired from Soul Repair Center. Ardis and I had a wonderful trip to visit Randall in Stamford, CT for Christmas. But then – Paris.

I was reminded that our world is a violent place and that our belief systems are part of the cause of that violence, hatred, and horror in our world. I think that the Almighty could ask, ‘Let the community without this sin throw the first stone.” I am also certain that no rocks would fly and quietly we would all shuffle away. That is a sad picture of how we all have misused the Revelation we have been given by God. Where is hope?

All my ministry has been connected to chaplaincy and that ministry has given me hope. I think that deep in the soul of authentic chaplaincy exists a gem called “Respect for the faith of all.” That we can “Cooperate without Compromise.” The gem becomes precious because it, like a pearl, is formed by pain. The pain that I have experience in the collegial relationships with other chaplains moved me from “Tolerance” for all to “Respect” for all as I struggled to express in our lives of faith the powerful experience of the Theophany – the problem of brokenness in our world and in ourselves, even while we gaze at the gems gifts of insight, love and friendship on our chaplain community.

What I wish for all of us in this New Year the blessings of the contemplation of the gem as it moves us all the value and respect each other and our faith even when and especially when we experience hurts in our community. May your year be blessed as you grow in your faith!

Herman Keizer Jr.
Herman Keizer, Jr.

USACCRA Reunion by Chaplain (COL) Herman Keizer, Jr.

Chaplain (COL) Herman Keizer, Jr.
6875 Dale Hollow Drive SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49316-7815

Dear Chaplain Family,

Another USACCRA Reunion has come and gone. It seemed to go too fast for many of us. We all had so many friends to meet, greet and get up to date on things in our lives. It still amazes me how quickly we can do that with our friends and acquaintances. We pick up as if we had seen each other yesterday, but we know that much has happened to each other and that we have all become older. I am also thankful that we can rejoice in God’s blessings even when experienced through pain and illness in addition to joys and blessings.

I am very thankful for the effort of the committee for all their work in planning and running the reunion. Al, Tom, Hal, Larry and Ken all deserve special thanks for all the work they did to make the conference a success. A BIG THANK YOU for all your work.

We tried to keep business to a few sessions, centered on two evening meals. This gave us the time to get out information we felt important and gave the attendees a maximum time for meeting together and visiting the city. Retired General Pete Chiarelli gave the Keynote Speech and we also heard from out Chief of Chaplains. G.T. and I talked about the C2C program. We also had a short business meeting. The Memorial Service celebrated and remembered the ministry of so many of our family. The list was long this year with names of many we all knew and valued.
Our hotel was not as close to the major city places to see and the hotel bus was not adequate for the needs of the attendees, While that was a hardship, it did not prevent our having fun.
We are working on plans for our 2016 Reunion and will get the dates and place information to you so you can put it on your calendars. We hope that you will all plan to come to our next reunion. It is a great opportunity to meet and greet members of the chaplain family.

The Board asks you all to find members of the family who are not members and encourage them to join. We are a better organization than we were a few years ago and we hope to continue to improve as we go forward. We would like to include more of the chaplain family in our organization and we do need your help to grow our membership.

I hope you all had a wonderful Veterans’ Day. Thanks for your service.

Herman Keizer Jr.
Herman Keizer, Jr.

Retirement of Jack Williamson

Retirement of Jack Williamson

Executive Director of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces

On April 1 2014, Jack Williamson will retire as Executive Director of NCMAF after 15 years in that position. Every chaplain, active and reserve, has been touched by Jack’s ministry in this position. NCMAF is one of the most unique gatherings of religious communities in the United States and maybe in the world. Religious communities of all strips who endorse chaplains for military duty owe Jack a hearty and blessed “Thank you” for the work he has done over these 15 years.

Jack and the NCMAF Board work many issues for the endorsing community, many of them are complex and religiously sensitive. He is the interface between the endorsers, the Service Chaplaincies, the Armed Forces Chaplains Board and the Department of Defense. Maintaining communications with and among these groups – all have their agendas and priorities – is like navigating a mine field without a proven mine detector. Jack has done this very well working through some difficult issues and relationships.

I had the privilege of working with Jack as a member of the Board for six years and the Board Chair for three years. Our professional relationship was soon a relationship of friends and colleagues who had deep respect for each other and a love for the mission of NCMAF – To help the endorsers send into the military the best from their faith communities to serve the men and women in the Uniformed Services of the US Military.

We, the membership of the United States Army Chaplain Corps Regimental Association, thank you Jack for your service to the chaplaincy and the churches. We wish you God’s Blessings as you move to continued ministry and in your well deserved retirement.

Dr. Charles Hedrick Thank You

Thank You to Dr. Charles Hedrick

Retiring USACCRA Treasurer

We, the Board and membership of USACCRA thank Dr. Charles Hedrick for his magnificent, diligent, responsible and humble service as our Treasurer for the past several years. Charles is one of the gems of the chaplaincy. He is a scholar, a teacher, a chaplain and a wonderful colleague. Listed below are some of his accomplishments he states them on his blog.

“I was educated at a small Southern Baptist liberal arts college in the deep south (Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi, 1958) and a Southern Baptist Seminary (Golden Gate, Mill Valley, California, 1962). After seminary, I was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Needles, California for three years, resigning to return to my studies in 1965. I worked as a Deputy Probation Officer in Los Angeles County (Juvenile Probation) for 13 years while I completed an M.A. at the University of Southern California (1968) and a Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate School (1977).

I retired as a U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain (Colonel) after 30 years’ service. My highest award was the “Legion of Merit.” I have served as pastor of churches in Mississippi, California, and New York City. In December 2004, I retired from teaching in the Religious Studies Department at Southwest Missouri State University, where I taught classes related to Christian Origins.

My research interests are Christian Origins. I taught classes in that subject at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri from 1980-2004 (viz., Jesus of Nazareth, New Testament Introduction, Parables, Gnosticism, etc.). My publications have been primarily in the areas of Gospels, Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism, the Graeco-Roman world, and related topics.

My first book on parables, Parables as Poetic Fictions, raises what I regard as substantive significant issues for the study of the parables, which is the backbone of the Jesus tradition. Another book, The Gospel of the Savior is the first publication of a fragmentary gospel manuscript, written in Coptic, whose composition dates before the latter half of the second century C.E. I found in fragments languishing in the West Berlin (Germany) Egyptian Museum.

When History and Faith Collide is an inductive study for students that describes the problems of describing Jesus of Nazareth as a historical human being. The book is intended to help students engage the problems for themselves.

My second book on parables, Many Things in Parables establishes a consistent theory for a literary approach to Parables and is written for the non-specialist.

My three most recent books stumble into the subject of what to do with the earliest Jesus traditions. House of Faith or Enchanted Forest? is a collection and revision of newspaper articles I published in the local newspaper critiquing unreflective Christian belief. When Faith Meets Reason is an edited work in which I challenged contributors to be completely honest about what they really believed. My latest book, Unlocking the Secrets of the Gospel according to Thomas shows the remarkable way the Jesus traditions were understood at the end of the first century in one early Christian text.

I am currently (2013) writing the last chapter of a new book now tentatively titled: The Wisdom of Jesus. Between the Sages of Israel and the Apostles of the Church..

Happy New Year

Free-Happy-New-Year-eCardsDear Chaplain Family,

The year 2013 has gone. The New Year 2014 has arrived. We made a lot of progress as an organization in 2013. We had a more stable year than the year 2012 so much of what you will never see, because he Board worked well together, has made us a better more responsive organization. Our finances are in much better shape thanks to our Treasurer, Charles Hedrick( who will be replaced by  Glen Holliday; our records have been more accurate thanks to our Secretary, Hal Roller;  our membership is contacted and new members called by Paul Howe; our local chapters are growing through the work of Tom Smith; Ina Jansen is working with other wives to include our widows more in our family activities; Alan Buckner and Larry Toelstede and many members in Atlanta are working hard on this year’s conference; GT keeps us in contact with the chiefs office; and the best news of the year is the better communications thanks to the work of Dan DeBlock and our web page. The rest of the Board does what is necessary and possible in our area.

I think we had a great 2013and I hope you will join me in Thanking the Board members.

They year 2014, will have as its highlight our getting together in Atlanta. Our pray is that many of you will plan to join us for this event. We are planning to make it fun and relaxing, but it will only be a success, if you are there with your friendship, stories, and laughter. Have a blessed New Year and see you in Atlanta.

Christmas Message from President USACCRA

Dear Chaplain Family,Herman Keizer, Jr.

In an historic moment in time, Hanukkah was celebrated during the same time as our celebration of America’s National Thanksgiving Day. That is a happening that will not occur again in a very, very long time. I hope that all of you who were able to be with your families to celebrate these two holidays – one religious and one National. For those of you separated from your families because of deployment or other assignment conditions, be assured the members of our Association lifted you up in our prayers.

One of the holy days in the Christian tradition is the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus from Nazareth, the son of Joseph and Mary. History took little note of this birthday. The writers of the Christian books called the Gospels tell the story of a poor family startled by the response to the birth of their son: a few shepherds, from the lower class of Israeli society, told of an amazing announcement from a chorus of beings from another world; a visit by some eastern magi, whose stargazing mapping of the heavens, following a new star and who left royal gifts; an old prophet and prophetess publically confessing that this was a very special child, one longed for from the beginning promise from God to make creation right again; a quick flight to Egypt, because an insecure monarch was willing to slay innocents to secure his throne; and a bewildered mother who reflected deeply on all these extra ordinary happenings.

Matthew begins his record of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth with a portrait of the ancestors of this child. A list of names of the famous and the infamous, mighty kings and terribly wicked kings, a prostitute and some other women of questionable character form the ancestral portrait of this child, even his mother conceived while not married. This is not a portrait one would hang above the mantle place above the fireplace. Better to put it in the back of the laundry closet, out of sight, like a skeleton in the closet.

The portrait in Matthew’s story is still the picture of the ancestors – the progeny of Jesus. No blood kin, but all adopted into the family he continues to call out of one community, to be part of his family. He alone is the exemplar – the righteous – right with God one. The rest of us in this adopted family take his name as his bride – adulterous, disobedient, and not worthy. However, we feel loved in this family, even when we trouble the family with a love-of-self, we continue to plead for mercy, forgiveness and inclusion.

Those of us in the Christian Community love this community, because in this community where we do not have to be right, we only need to feel the mercy, love, and forgiveness of that family. I encourage you who belong to this family in our Chaplain family to find that Joy has come to the world, because he loved us when we were enemies of this family and our adopting God.

For those of you from different religious traditions we wish for you “Joy, Peace and Love.” Let us know that, given our family name, this is what you expect from us and the way we should be towards you. Have a Blessed Christmas

Herman Keizer, Jr. CH (COL) USA retired

President, USACCRAmerry christmas