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Sunday, July 29, 2007

CENTAF chaplain visits Djibouti orphanages

16 July 07
by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Osborne
Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Public Affairs Office

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- The U.S. Central Command Air Forces command chaplain visited Camp Lemonier July 10 to 13 to meet with servicemembers and spent time at two local orphanages where he and members of the Alaska Air National Guard joined the boys in a basketball game.

Chaplain (Col.) Gregory Tate also looked at the camp's religious support team to get a sense of morale among servicemembers and coalition forces at Combined Joint task Force - Horn of Africa.

In addition, the chaplain met with David Ball, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy. Chaplain Tate said he could not have been more pleased with the hospitality, camaraderie and dedication to mission he experienced during his visit.

"We have been well-received by everyone at Camp Lemonier," Chaplain Tate said. "Chaplain (Navy Cmdr.) Walter Dinkins and the CJTF-HOA command chaplain's staff are doing a great job engaging this area of responsibility. They are doing groundbreaking work as they spend time at the orphanages and build partnerships within the (defense, diplomacy and development) infrastructure. The people serving here now are going to be invaluable to the future as they pass on their lessons learned."

Djibouti is just one of 20 sites Chaplain Tate and Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Sawyer, the CENTAF chaplain assistant functional manager, will visit during their one-year remote tour at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. They travel the Central Command area of operation to observe Air Force chaplain services and religious support teams.

"I have the best job serving the best commander in the AOR," said Chaplain Tate, who spent 14 years as a line officer before becoming a chaplain in 1996. "I love to travel and learn and this job provides the opportunity to do both. It's great to see our folks doing the duties and missions they have been trained to do, because they know how important the mission is. It thrills my heart to meet people and help them meet their needs."

Sergeant Sawyer said his job is especially rewarding because it provides the opportunity to be a hands-on senior enlisted leader to a great number of people in a variety of situations.

"The most satisfying and fun part of this job is traveling and interacting with the troops, particularly the chaplain's assistants, both my peers and those who are just starting their careers," Sergeant Sawyer said. "I have the chance to mentor, teach and get to know new people. The unique thing I liked about our visit to Djibouti was the opportunity to participate in the humanitarian efforts because we usually don't get a chance to take part in those things."

Photo - Chaplain (Col.) Gregory Tate surrenders his cover to a child during his July 13 visit to the baby orphanage near Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. Chaplain Tate, the U.S. Central Air Forces Command chaplain, visited Djibouti as part of his Central Command area of operation tour, observing Air Force chaplain services and religious support teams. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class John Osborne.

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