[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        May 22, 2009

Chapel setting established 
for Soldiers at COL Freedom

By Tom Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor

A place of religious worship has been created for Soldiers training for mobilization and also for the trainers at Contingency Operating Location (COL) Freedom.

Photo: 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)
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)

Itís 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.

Fort 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."

Colwell 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."

"We 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 COL."

"We had a lot of help from the personnel at the COL mayorís cell," Colwell said. "It is very fulfilling to see the project completed."

The chaplain said a portable field altar has been ordered and will be stocked with altar cloths, ecclesiastical items and seasonal dťcor.

"Itís all dedicated to bring Soldiers closer to God," Colwell said.

Chaplain 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."

Croel 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 Mormon.

"This 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.

He 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.)


[ Top of Page ]

[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]