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August 26, 2011


Chaplain candidates training at McCoy

Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Chaplain Candidate (1st Lt.) Momo Larmena is trekking around Fort McCoy, visiting various Army venues and scenarios for four weeks as part of the chaplain-candidate training program.
PHOTO: Chaplain candidates talk with the Fort McCoy Installation Chaplain. Photo by Tom Michele
Chaplain candidates 1st lt. Momo Larmena, left, and 2nd Lt. Caleb Wright talk with Fort McCoy Installation Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth Lawson at the Installation Chapel Center. The two candidates are participating in the Religious Support Office’s annual two- to four-week chaplain-candidate training program.

One of his McCoy stops was at the Soldier Readiness Center, visiting mobilizing and demobilizing Soldiers.

Larmena went along with other installation chaplains on those visits, as Installation Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth Lawson explained, “shadowing.”

Larmena’s trek toward the religious ministry and military chaplaincy came from a more violent background than for most ministers or chaplains-to-be.

Larmena was born and raised in the African country of Liberia. “I fled Liberia due to the 14-year civil war in which my father was killed. My mother, my three sons and I fled as refugees to Ghana for eight years.”

Larmena, who came to the U.S. in 2004, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2007, with basic training at Fort Sill, Okla., and advanced individual training in logistics at Fort Lee, Va.

He then applied for the chaplain candidate program and received his commission in 2008. He is assigned to the 85th Support Command, Arlington Heights, Ill., and will complete his studies at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., in January.

“I had a ‘good’ experience in Liberia and Ghana,” Larmena said. “Good because I learned a lot along the way, to experience poverty, hunger and sleeping out in the open under the skies, and surviving by the mercy, grace and favor of God.”

“I wanted to be a minister since I was about 12 years old,” Larmena said. “My goal as an Army chaplain is for the opportunity to serve Soldiers and their Families, back at home and down range, wherever the need is and wherever God wants to send me.”

While at Fort McCoy, Larmena worked with chaplain candidate 2nd Lt. Caleb Wright, assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 98th Training Division, Fort Jackson, S.C.

Lawson said seven chaplain candidates will have trained at Fort McCoy this year by the end of summer. “They don’t all come at the same time. I was a chaplain candidate 22 years ago, and I promised myself that if I ever had the chance, I would make the chaplain-candidate program a positive experience for others.”

“The program provides the future leaders of the Army chaplaincy with practical experience as they learn from senior chaplains,” Lawson said.

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