Chaplain builds deep ties for CSMR and 224th
It’s a good-works-in-progress situation for CH Maj. Christopher Fowler who has absolute faith in its future value.
Fowler, the acting command chaplain for the California State Military Reserve, believes that the growing relationship between the CSMR and the California National Guard’s 224th Sustainment Brigade will continue to thrive and serve as a statewide model.
Fowler, who has served as assistant chaplain for the brigade, has played a key role in helping shape the partnership that also includes a CSMR platoon now virtually embedded with the 224th and a CSMR recruiting task force housed at the brigade’s headquarters armory in Long Beach.
“The real story here is the mutual respect that our National Guard and CSMR colleagues have for each other and how that respect translates into mission accomplishment,” said Fowler about what has developed over the past two years. “And the real ministry for me is being able to care for such professional and dedicated Soldiers and leaders.”
Former brigade commander Col. Peter Kim said the feelings of respect are mutual. “I’d like to think that we’ve got one of the better relationships out of any of the other organizations throughout the state,” he said about the brigade’s CSMR partnership.
The CSMR platoon (Alpha Co., 3d Battalion, 1st Brigade) and a CSMR color guard were on hand Aug. 3, 2013 for the change-of-command ceremony where Kim handed over the brigade leadership to Lt. Col. David Ceniti.
Kim, in an interview prior to the ceremony, noted the symbolism of having the CSMR personnel in formation at the morning event, right there with their fellow troops in the Cal Guard.
“The fact that they want to [stand with us] is even more of an honor to me — to let me know that they consider themselves and appreciate the fact that they are part of our organization, part of our team and part of our family,” Kim said. “That [CSMR Soldiers] do this on a completely voluntary basis just astounds me and it continues to awe me — the dedication and commitment. And it’s an honor to serve with you guys.”
Spc. George Flannagan said it has been a special experience for the platoon to work closely with the brigade known as the Dragonslayers. “We get to learn what they know, and they get to learn what we know,” he said. “It’s been a good interchange of information. [The partnership] allows us to experience what the Soldiers go through and [learn] how we can help them — what can we do to help them to be better Soldiers. And that’s our number one job.”
Kim indicated that a next partnership step will be for the brigade command to look at formally connecting with personnel from the CSMR Regional Support South’s medical detachment who are behavioral health specialists such as psychiatrists.
The idea, according to Kim, will be not to provide clinical support but rather to talk with Soldiers and be an extra pair of trained eyes and ears to seek out personal problems before they get out of hand.
Kim, who now takes on the chief of staff position for the Cal Guard’s 40th Infantry Division at the Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, held a brief special ceremony in his brigade office. The occasion: offering a spirited thanks to Fowler and awarding him with the Army Commendation Medal.
“I am truly blessed and honored to be recognized in this way,” said Fowler about the federal award that is rarely given to CSMR personnel. But he and Kim won’t be taking divergent paths. Fowler also will be going to the 40th ID, where he will serve as the assistant division chaplain under Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Robert Blessing, who is also moving over from the 224th. The move to division from brigade will immediately expand the size and scope of Blessing and Fowler’s ministry jurisdiction.
Capt. Roy Twaddell Jr., the RSS command chaplain, will take over for Fowler at the 224th and no doubt will be striving to keep the faith going.
Social media links:
Cal Guard: 224th Sustainment Brigade’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/224SB
The Cal Guard Facebook page for chaplains can be found using this url: https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaArmyNationalGuardChaplains?hc_location=timeline
The brigade’s page on the Cal Guard website is at: http://www.calguard.ca.gov/unit-home-about?Unit=224th%20Sustainment%20Brigade&Org=Army:Units:224th%20Sustainment%20Brigade
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rick de la Torre Photos by Staff Sgt. (CA) Richard Bergquist