Chaplain Corps foundation: 245 years serving

Group photo of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Chaplain Corps

Members of the 355th Wing Chaplain Corps pose for a group photo at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, July 28, 2020. The chaplain corps at Davis-Monthan conducts a variety of clergy services and provides trusted council and advice for more than 12,000 Davis-Monthan members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

Photo of a military chaplain talking to two maintainers on top of an A-10 Thunderbolt II at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base flightline

U.S. Air Force Capt. Philip Stewart, 355th Wing Chaplain Corps chaplain, right, talks with maintainers at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, July 28, 2020. Military chaplains, like Stewart, have provided service members, families and veterans with services to improve their spiritual health since 1775. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa) Hi

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

One of the fundamental aspects of having a resilient and ready military dates back before The Declaration of Independence received its infamous John Hancock.

For 245 years, the Military Chaplain Corps has provided service members, families and veterans with services to improve on their spiritual health.

Before the Air Force’s establishment as its own branch in 1947, Capt. Charles I. Carpenter was appointed as the first Army Air Corps chaplain July 28, 1942, providing, what is now, the Air Force with the much needed chaplain support.

“Being a whole human is about taking care of yourself physically, mentally and socially, but also spiritually,” said Capt. Philip Stewart, 355th Wing Chaplain Corps chaplain. “We are there for the well-being and care of everybody. Our mission is caring for Airmen more than anyone thinks possible.”

The chaplain corps at Davis-Monthan conducts clergy services, from across a spectrum of religions, and provides trusted council and advice for more than 12,000 Davis-Monthan members.

“You don’t have to be religious for me to be able to have a conversation with you, to find out what is going on or to have a real human connection,” said Stewart. “The importance of military chaplaincy is a face you can trust – having someone that can take the time and say ‘I care about you.’”

One way the chapel helps Airmen boost spirituality and esprit de corps, the spirit that makes members want to succeed, is by conducting walkthroughs at squadrons for face-to-face interaction, helping with religious freedom and accommodations or providing advice to improve on spirituality.

As defined by the Air Force, spirituality is what gives you meaning and purpose.

“We wear a lot of hats, but it all comes down together under one,” said Stewart. “We want everyone to do a little bit better – we want a better tomorrow.

 “What motivates you, that’s your spirituality,” Stewart added. “It’s part of being human whether you find meaning and purpose in an organized religious tradition, in your own set of values and ethics or in something eclectic that you’ve put together.”

Though some implementations have been set forth during the global pandemic, the 355th WG Chaplain Corps continues to work hard to provide avenues for Airmen, their families and veterans with the needed support and care to maintain spiritual health readiness.

“Not a lot of people realize that religious affairs is a resource they have,” said Airman 1st Class Alex Rodriguez, 355th WG/HC chaplain assistant. “It’s important because we want to show Airmen that we do genuinely care.”

To talk to a chaplain or get more information on chapel services at Davis-Monthan call 520-228-5411.