MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Navy chaplains stationed throughout the Navy and Marine Corps gathered May 1 to celebrate the presentation of the John H. Craven Servant Leadership Award to Lake Orion, Mich., native Navy Capt. Steven Brown for his work as the chaplain for II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) in Afghanistan.
The annual award is peer-nominated and presented to a Navy chaplain who has earned the rank of captain or is selected to that rank. The nominee must be exceptionally dedicated to ensuring the professional and personal well-being of service members in their care, as well as ensuring the delivery of the Chaplain Corps’ four core capabilities of facilitation, provision, care and advisement.
Craven was a highly decorated chaplain who ministered sailors and Marines throughout World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He served as the chaplain of the Marine Corps from 1968 to 1973, epitomizing sea service ministry and touching the lives and hearts of service members under his care.
“John Craven was a chaplain’s chaplain; he was a Marine chaplain; he was an iconic leader in our corps,” mentioned Warrington, Pa., native Rear Adm. Margaret G. Kibben, the chaplain of the Marine Corps.
The Chaplain Corps began presenting an annual award to further his legacy of service in 2006.
“In his year in Afghanistan --which he just returned about five weeks ago -- he had to look at the entire southwest region and say, ‘Are we taking care of our people?’” Kibben said about Brown. “He did so aggressively, to the extent that the number and the breadth of worship services through the region reflected how committed he was to ensure that our people could express themselves with their own faith traditions.”
Brown’s modesty resonated through the hall as he accredited the success of his recent deployment to the efforts of his team of Navy chaplains.
“The real reason I am receiving this award is because of (the chaplains). All I did was turn them loose and coordinate among them and encourage them in the work that they had,” said Brown. “There was more work than we could possibly do, and we worked long hours. Yet, it was phenomenal ministry and it was truly a blessing and great excitement to be there.”
As the ceremony concluded, Brown spoke of what the award meant to him and the legacy of John Craven.
“I think the thing that means the most to me is John Craven spent a lot of time serving as a Marine chaplain,” Brown said. “He was at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and in Korea. My career certainly hasn’t been like his, but for me to receive this award and to be honored as a Marine chaplain who’s a servant leader, it means much to me.”