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1/5's chaplain conducts rolling Easter service for Marines

27 Mar 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

The 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment's chaplain was a holly-roller in an up-armored humvee for more than six hours March 27.Navy Lt. Aaron T. Miller traveled to each of the battalion's five companies on Easter, preaching a hasty Easter message and served Holy Communion to the Marines. According to the 32-year-old from Redlands, Calif., Marines and sailors shouldn't have to neglect celebrating Easter and other Christian holidays while serving in combat. "War (causes) some men to think about their spiritual side," Miller explained. "The pinnacle of military religious service is when I get to go into the midst of where men who need God the most are. You get very few chances to reach out and touch someone in a combat environment. Threats of hitting improvised explosive devices didn't stop the holy man. He was on a mission from God, preaching the holy word to Marines providing them with spiritual nourishment."I wear the armor of man, but it's the armor of God that protects me," he proclaimed. "People need to nurture their spiritual side. God is an important part of life. I hope the Easter message will provide a sense of peace and security in midst of this combat environment."Miller's Easter sermon was God's plan for humanity with the focal point being Jesus' death and resurrection. Miller and Calloway were escorted by the battalion commander's security force to OP-295, OP-Ghetto, forward operating base-VA, the Government Center and Camps Snake Pit, Junction City and Hurricane Point. At each place, the chaplain and his Easter message motivated Marines."His visit raised my spirits and made me feel good that we can still celebrate Easter while fighting in Iraq," 24-year-old Lance Cpl. Neal R. Bassett, a mortarman with, Company B said after service at OP-VA. "We appreciate what he's doing for us. I know his coming here helped raise the moral of a lot of Marines."The chaplain's visit transformed a normal day serving on the front lines into something special for some Marines."I had totally forgotten what day it was," Lance Cpl. Richard D. Poulis, a 26-year-old Houston native and machine gunner with Company B, said while scanning the city streets from the rooftop of OP-295. "Being so busy, I had lost track of time. I was really glad he came and wished me happy Easter."Conditions were makeshift with Green military cots serving as pews in improvised chapels for the services, but that didn't matter to Cpl. Matthew C. Pifer, corporal of the guard for H&S Company's Guard Force."Church isn't about being in a fancy building, it's about being with fellow believers," the 22-year-old Alto, Mich., native said during service at HP. "It's inspiring to know that no matter where you go, you can come together with Christians for fellowship. It's great what the chaplain is doing." At the end of his Easter tour, Miller said he hoped the Marines benefited from his services."Part of my job is to be concerned about the men," he said. "It's important for them not to neglect their spiritual side. I think the Easter service lifted a lot of the Marines' spirits. It seemed like they were hungry to receive the word."