Pistol Packing Padre

Once upon a time in a faraway land, I knew a U.S. Navy Lutheran Chaplain who had done a 4-year hitch as a Marine grunt, gotten out as a lance corporal, finished college and seminary, and then went back on active duty as a Navy Padre and requested assignment to a Marine rifle battalion.

The grunts, as usual, were short-handed, and although SOP for a chaplain in the field was to assign him a permanent bodyguard/gopher/chaplain's assistant, the guy just couldn't bring himself to tie up an able-bodied Marine rifleman when the line companies were so short of personnel. While he was stationed at Camp Lejeune as an enlisted man he had fired on the 2nd MarDiv pistol team, and he was an amazing shot with a handgun, so he went down to the armory and checked out a Colt .45 M1911A1 and found himself a side holster and a magazine pouch to hang on his web belt and guarded himself.

The Padre was a field Marine at heart, and when an operation was on and the bullets were flying you could most often find him out in the boonies with the troops, ministering to those who most needed him. He had one or two tours as an EM grunt under his belt and was field-savvy, and sometimes when the battalion C.O. wasn't looking he would slip off with one of the line companies and hump on sweeps with them. The company C.O.'s knew and trusted him and they would generally put him with the most inexperienced platoon commander as an unofficial "advisor".

It was unusual to see a Navy chaplain out on operations, and Marines who didn't know him, when they saw his insignia and him packing a .45 in the field, often questioned why a chaplain was carrying a weapon "in harm's way" and his stock answer was priceless. "The Church sent me here to minister to the spiritual needs of the troops and to convert the heathen, and I have found that some of them need more convincing than others."

In at least one case I know of, the Company CP almost got overrun by the NVA in a really hot firefight, and the Padre was standing in a nice off-hand position in the middle of the wounded and the Corpsman, "discouraging" the leakers who were getting too close to "his Marines" lying there wounded on the LZ. He went through two magazines and rumor control said he missed once.

That’s the kind of Sky Pilot I like… Someone who has been there and done that, and is not too goody-goody to pitch in and help when the bovine excrement hits the rotary impeller. Christ was not a wimp!

1 thought on “Pistol Packing Padre”

  1. AN AWESOME STORY TO READ !!!!! MY PASTOR WAS A “DI” @ MCRD-SAN DIEGO (1960-1966). HE HAS A TEXAS CONCEALED PERMIT & PACKS EITHER A 1911A1 .45 ACP / 9X18 RUSSIAN MAKAROV. HE CARRIES IN CHURCH & TAKES IT ALONG WITH HIS BIBLE, IF HE IS ASKED TO MAKE A HOME-VISIT, AFTER DARK. HE SAYS “I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH SHOOTING AN UNSAVED HEATHEN, IF THEY ATTEMPT TO DO ME OR SOMEONE I LOVE HARM. I WOULD RATHER GET THEM SAVED FROM THEIR SINS FIRST, BUT THE CHOICE IS ENTIRELY UP TO THEM !!!!!!!——-OOORAH” MANY OF THE GODLY MEN & WOMEN I HAVE MET OVER THE PAST 50 YEARS, WERE SOME OF THE MOST HEAVILY ARMED CITIZENS, YOU COULD EVER MEET. 99% HAD LARGE FIREARMS COLLECTIONS & WERE DEVOTED HUNTERS, COMPETITION SHOOTERS, AND RELOADERS. NOT “WIMPY, MILK-TOAST CHRISTIANS” BY ANY STANDARDS !!!!!!!!!! SEMPER FIDELIS

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