Chaplains support spiritual well-being

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dillon White
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
On any Monday, Airmen from Malmstrom perform tasks that impact mission success. These Airmen include chaplains who lead worship, counsel and consult the military members and their families who comprise Malmstrom Air Force Base, the Montana Air National Guard and other tenant units on base. 

During the past year, several new faces have arrived on base to fill these roles as spiritual leaders. 

"The chapel team serves as a visual reminder of the Holy," said Chaplain (1st Lt.) Thomas Woodruff, 341st Missile Wing chaplain. We minister to five groups and Malmstrom Air Force Base is, per capita, the youngest base population in Space Command." 

Chaplains ensure that Airmen and their families can exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of religion, whether they practice a mainstream religion or not, and regardless of where they work, Chaplain Woodruff said. 

Although Chaplain Woodruff arrived at Malmstrom in January, he is no stranger to the base because he was assigned to Malmstrom as an enlisted Airman from November of 1991 to April 1993, and worked in the base recreation center, which is now the Health and Wellness Center. 

Following his enlistment, he earned a Master of Divinity at the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tenn. He then served as the senior pastor at the New Harmony Baptist Church in Benton, Ky., for three years before returning to the Air Force.
The father of five also conducts marital counseling and is available to talk to anyone about anything, even if it isn't related to religion, he said. 

"To be a good officer and minister you have to make time to help people," Chaplain Woodruff said. 

While Chaplain Woodruff tends primarily to the Airmen in the 341st Maintenance Operations Squadron, the 819th RED HORSE Squadron and the 741st Security Forces Squadron, Chaplain (Capt.) Corwin Smith can generally be found at the chapel, or possibly at guard mount speaking with Airmen. 

Chaplain Smith enlisted in the Army in 1996 to pursue a career as a helicopter pilot. The Soldier later decided he wanted to become a chaplain during basic training. 

"When I was in basic, you either went to chapel on Sunday or cleaned the barracks," Chaplain Smith said. "I saw a large diverse group of people wanting to go to chapel who had never examined their spirituality." 

This was the moment he realized the large impact he could have, he said. 

The Oklahoma native and his wife of 11 years, Jamie Lynn, have since been stationed at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., Travis AFB, Calif., and Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. While stationed at Spangdalem, the Chaplain travelled to Rome, Paris, Barcelona, London, Prague and Austria-to name a few. 

"I like to see people grow. To me that strongly entails the spiritual aspect, so I like to be an effective resource for people." 

The former Central Oklahoma Bronchos football team fullback plans to join a flag football team while he is here and says he loves intramural sports. He also wants to learn more about Space Command. 

"When I was stationed at Spangdalem, I would take hot chocolate out to the maintainers; I'm looking forward to visiting the Airmen here out in the missile field." 

Next to Chaplain Smith's office, the southern accent of a Georgia-born and Alabama-raised chaplain (Maj.) Mark Roberts, can be heard talking on his phone or visiting with Airmen. 

The ordained elder of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and father of three served as a civilian pastor for 10 years before joining the Air Force. 

Since joining the Air Force, Chaplain Roberts is "Always busy," he said. The chaplain counsels Airmen from E-1 to wing leadership and their families. AS Senior Protestant Chaplain, he also implements chapel programs, leads worship services and attends meetings, among other responsibilities, he said. 

"My mission is to provide a comprehensive and consistent ministry to our warriors in the field and their families back home," Chaplain Roberts said. 

Providing outstanding opportunities for worship and camaraderie to the single young adults on base through the Detour and worship is important as well, said Chaplain Roberts. 

The parishes on base have donated approximately $5,000 to the Detour, and chaplains have led contemporary Christian services there as well. 

The Detour will undergo an extreme makeover in the near future, Chaplain Roberts said. 

The third thing the chaplain wants to provide is first-class worship services and programs that appeal and minister to a wide variety of Air Force members and their families while also facilitating the religious needs of those who may not be a part of a mainstream religion. 

In fact, on any day of the week, the chaplains are at work. They lead worship services and studies at the chapel throughout the week and can point anyone who is looking for a place to practice their religion, or a group to practice it with, in the right direction.