By Army Spc. Creighton Holub
Special to American Forces Press Service
March 11, 2009 - Two Army chaplains are building much more than the faith of their soldiers on this remote base near the southeastern border of Iraq. Chaplain (Capt.) Colt Randles and Chaplain (Capt.) Michael Roberts of the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team are building a chapel for soldiers here, one board at a time.
"I waited four months for a tent," Randles, a Muskegon, Mich., native, said. "It was me and my kit. I was conducting services with a cardboard box in the dining facility."
As they put the final touches on the building, the Solid Rock Chapel now offers a permanent structure not only for soldiers, but also for interpreters and civilians.
The chaplains have expanded the facility by adding "Holy Joe's Café," which has hot coffee available for the troops, and a large-screen television to keep soldiers entertained with movies and video games.
"Guys relate to video games," said Roberts, a Killeen, Texas, native. "They slaughter me on 'Call of Duty 4,' but it's a tool to relate with them."
He said it's fortunate he's winning 80 percent of his Madden '09 games against the troops, because it's more than pride that's on the line. Sometimes the chaplain does push-ups if he loses, but the troops have to show up for the next Sunday service if he wins.
With a permanent structure in place, the chaplains are turning their attention to reintegration. They are working on a strategy to help soldiers reunite successfully with their families when the brigade returns to Fort Hood, Texas, in a few months. Roberts is scheduled to teach classes about financial responsibility, while Randles is set to hold marriage enrichment classes.
Since the chaplains are located together here, they can share the course load the same way they share the process of improving the Solid Rock Chapel.
(Army Spc. Creighton Holub serves with the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team.)