Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Oasis

Chaplain Dale C. White at the Oasis, Camp Workhorse
on 11/09/05

While waiting impatiently for my helo ride out west, I have conducted several interviews at Camp Fallujah, primarily folks from the II MEF Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection cell (AT/FP). One of my interviews today was with the Regimental Chaplain at Camp Workhorse, home of Regimental Combat Team 8 (RCT-8). Chaplain Dale C. White, a United States Navy Commander (0-5) provided the first of several Chaplain interviews I hope to conduct. A personable guy, Chaplain White is a Methodist Minister who provides religious services to numerous units within the RCT, to include 1st and 3rd Recon Bn; 2nd AAV’s, Tanks and TOW’s; 2nd CEB; B 1/11; 5th CAG and HET, to name a few.

Military Chaplains are the most overworked individuals in theater. Working 7 days a week, 365 days a year, they focus all of their efforts on the Marines and sailors who’ve experienced horrendous wounds or have seen their friends killed in battle. They spend countless hours providing grief counseling and marriage counseling; listening to the problems of our young men and women who are so far away from home. They conduct religious services on base and in the field, and offer last rites to the dead and dying.

When he’s not in the field with his Marines, Chaplain White can be found at the “Oasis,” a small office building on the outskirts of Camp Workhorse where Marines and Sailors come to get away from their troubles and find a bit of solitude as well as a friendly ear to bend. The “Oasis” has shelves stocked with health and comfort items, coffee, and snacks sent by various church groups and civic organizations that forward donations to the Chaplain. During the evenings, the Chaplain often sits on his rustic front porch of scrap wood and chomps a cigar, a habit he picked up since arriving in Iraq. Content to “hang out” with a few members of the RCT who seek a peaceful moment of rest, the Chaplain indicated his evening sit-downs draw a dozen or more Marines who aren’t otherwise out in the field fighting the insurgency. A couple months back, during just such an evening, a mortar round landed close to the “Oasis,” exploding in a nearby berm of dirt and sandbags. As Marines excitedly came running out of their spaces to see what the commotion was all about, Chaplain White remained on his porch, smoking his cigar and quietly asking the Marines to come join him for a smoke and a enjoy a moment of relaxation.

A calming factor to those who serve – isn’t that what the Chaplain Corps is
all about?

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