|'Send us more'|
Fellow chaplains Lt. Col. Gil Richardson, right, a Presbyterian, and Maj. Jim Caraway, a Southern Baptist, discuss the deployment of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. Richardson, division senior chaplain, encouraged Southern Baptists to "send us more chaplains." Photo by Richard D. McCormack
FORT HOOD, Texas (BP)--Maj. Jim Caraway has spent the past two months readying the soldiers of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division for combat in Iraq, but he doesn't teach them how to shoot rifles or throw grenades. He teaches them about God's Word.
Caraway, a Southern Baptist minister in uniform, is assistant division chaplain and responsible for the spiritual health of the more than 29,000 soldiers being deployed with the combined elements of the Fort Hood-based division's combat task force. When the soldiers see combat, Caraway said he also will be "in the middle of the dirt, eating MREs [Meals Ready to Eat], not bathing and suffering from a lack of sleep."
Soldiers and their spouses embraced and wept after the 4th Infantry Division's deployment ceremony March 27. Caraway said his feelings about leaving the Texas army base for the Persian Gulf aren't any different from those of the soldiers he watches over. He admits getting choked up when he speaks of leaving his family behind.
U.S. Army Chaplain 1st Lt. Virgil Thomas, left, hands a soldier of the 4th Infantry Division a camouflaged Bible just after the March 27 deployment ceremony. Lead elements of the division began arriving in Kuwait on March 29. Photo by Richard D. McCormack
"We cry a lot. My wife talks about the time I spend at work as opposed to the time I spend at home with her. Families sacrifice and ours is no different. You have to make quality time out of the time you've been given," Caraway said. "It's as important to be a husband as a minister."
It's also important to be a grandfather, he said. "If we're gone for more than a year and my grandson asks, I want my family to tell him, 'Grandpa is over taking care of soldiers who are away from their families just like Grandpa is away from his family. ... He is trying to help people.'"