Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
place of religious worship has been created for Soldiers training for
mobilization and also for the trainers at Contingency Operating
Location (COL) Freedom.
Chaplain Candidate (2nd Lt.)
Randy Croel (left) explains a brief verse from the Bible in the
field chapel at COL Freedom.
(Photo by Tom Michele)
just a simple canvas Army tent, with a table, more than a dozen chairs
and a few storage cabinets behind a wall divider. From those cabinets
come any of the instruments and decorations appropriate to add mood
and atmosphere for a service or just for a place for a Soldier, alone
or with others, to walk in and relax and meditate.
McCoy Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Steven Colwell said, "We conducted
services in classrooms at the COL, but there was occasional conflict
with class training times. We had one service in a laundry room, but
that was somewhat disrespectful. Now Soldiers have a place to go just
for this sacred aspect of their lives."
mentioned the importance of having a field chapel setting at the COL
is, "Soldiers have a constitutional right to exercise their
religion. Sometimes thatís hard to do. The tent is part of the Armyís
answer to have a facility, a tool, to provide religious support that
Soldiers desperately need in these trying times."
are proud of the new chapel setting," Colwell said. "It is
important just like the other life-support facilities, like the
billeting, dining, showers, classrooms, training areas, storage
structures and offices. It rounds out the life-support cycle at the
had a lot of help from the personnel at the COL mayorís cell,"
Colwell said. "It is very fulfilling to see the project
chaplain said a portable field altar has been ordered and will be
stocked with altar cloths, ecclesiastical items and seasonal dťcor.
all dedicated to bring Soldiers closer to God," Colwell said.
Candidate 2nd Lt. Randy Croel conducted the first worship service for
a group of Soldiers at the new facility in late April. "The new
chapel setting is here so Soldiers on duty at the COL can practice
their faith," Croel said. "The chapel is open 24/7 so
Soldiers can come in and meditate, read or pray. The chaplainsí
service at Fort McCoy is also available for counseling and that
includes at COL Freedom."
said there is a supply of religious materials at the chapel for
Soldiers to use, including several versions of the Holy Bible along
with copies of the Jewish Tanakh, the Islamic Quran and the Book of
is all so Soldiers may exercise their first amendment rights to
practice religion," Croel said. Croel, from Bruce, Wis., ordained
a Baptist minister in 2004, is working on his masterís degree in
divinity through Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
already has a masterís in theology, serves part-time at his home
parish and is a member of the Army Reserve, assigned to the Individual
Ready Reserve in St. Louis. He has been performing some of his Army
duty at Fort McCoy, and will continue to support the installation
religious program, including mobilizing Soldiers.
(Michele is a public
affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for
CONUS Support Base Services.)