Noodling around the US DOD website, I found a story on a chaplain’s work in Afghanistan, a subject I like to feature here from time to time. I’ve had a chance to meet several of my US chaplain colleagues and find them quite impressive as a group. Several things of note – the US military does not seem to use the term “padre” as British and Commonwealth ones do; the term is either “chaplain” or, more informally, “chappie”. Also, the article quotes Lt. Cmdr. Tews’ “religious assistant”. The role or MOSID of chaplain’s assistant is unique to the US military. This person is a non-commissioned officer who acts as a field assistant and bodyguard for US chaplains, who are, like their Brit/Com colleagues, non-combatants. The Canadian Forces considered adopting the MOSID of a chaplain’s ssistant recently, but it was a non-starter, which is not surprising considering that our military is vastly smaller than that of the US and we have far fewer chaplains deployed at any given time. Usually we will rate a driver if we are deployed and the situation allows for going outside the wire.

Anyway, “chappie” Tews seems like he’s worth his salt. MP+

Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Mark Tews grew up in a military family and now provides for the spiritual needs of Marines deployed to Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mark Garcia

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mark Garcia
Regional Command Southwest

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, March 26, 2012 – Growing up as a self-described “military brat,” Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Mark Tews said he knew he wanted to serve his country. But he also felt a calling to be a minister.

Navy Chaplain (Lt. Cmdr.) Mark Tews grew up in a military family and now provides for the spiritual needs of Marines deployed to Afghanistan.

Before his June 1996 commissioning, the chaplain for Regimental Combat Team 6 said, he had been a minister at a parish for four years and knew he wanted to continue that career while in the military.

“I always wanted to kind of follow in my dad’s footsteps by being patriotic and serving my country, but I also had a calling to ministry,” said Tews, 53, from Alvin, Texas. “I knew the only job I could do that in would be as a chaplain, and the Navy happened to be the only branch looking for chaplains at the time.”

During his time in the Navy, Tews has had the opportunity to be a chaplain for Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and has served in Navy surface and aviation commands.

“I think the Navy is one of the greatest opportunities I’ve ever had,” Tews said. “I’ve liked the Navy ever since I decided to join. I like the variety and diversity associated with my job.”

During his career, Tews said, one of his sons served a four-year enlistment in the Marine Corps, which allowed him to gain some insight into what Marines go through.

“He’s one of the best chaplains I’ve ever worked for,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James Vanzella, a religious assistant from Lodi, N.J. “He can relate to the Marines because one of his sons is a former Marine. He knows how to talk with and handle Marines — get on their level, understand where they’re coming from and what they’re going through.”

Vanzella said it is extremely important for Marines to have a chaplain at their disposal.

“If a Marine is having a bad day and needs a place to go and to feel safe and talk about any issues, the chaplain is always there for them,” he explained. “For Marines, this is a place of sanctuary where they don’t have to worry about anything and can talk with the chaplain about anything.”

After serving close to 16 years, Tews said, he wanted the chance to work with Marines again before retiring.

“I wanted to come back to the Marine side after being with the Navy for so long,” he said. “At my first duty station, I got to work with the Marines, and I enjoyed it a lot and wanted to get back to working with the Marines before it’s all said and done.”

While Tews misses his wife and sons, he misses 15-month-old granddaughter the most, he said. But he added that he understands that while serving his year-long deployment, his mission is to counsel, mentor and look after the Marines here.

0 Responses

  1. "the US military does not seem to use the term "padre""

    Your observation is correct. In US parlance, "padre" would be a euphemism or possibly a term of affection for a Catholic priest, but not a chaplain. I always wondered why the commonwealth militaries had so many Catholic priests…

    "Chappie" and "Chaps" may actually be more common in the Navy than the other branches, where terms of address are often more connected to position than rank or name.