The Corner

Chaplain Peterson, Prophet

I just re-read a piece I did for

NRODT last year, on the verge of war, about military chaplains and the

service they provide to our armed

forces. Here’s a quote a retired military chaplain who worked side by side

with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the 1991 Gulf War. His words seem almost

prophetic in light of recent events:

In the field, chaplains face serious challenges helping soldiers coping

with stress and loneliness stay morally straight. Retired chaplain Dave

Peterson, whose first tour of duty was in Vietnam, says the bitter

experience of that war taught him that command leadership has to establish

conditions that make it easier for troops to live up to high standards of

behavior: “I concluded that one reason we can’t get past the Vietnam

experience is because so many people broke their moral code, and got into

sex and drugs and things like that. America lost part of its soul in

Vietnam. There was bad leadership.” Serving on Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf’s

staff in Desert Storm, Peterson helped the general draft the

Islamic-sensitive code of conduct strictly forbidding drugs, alcohol,

pornography, and prostitution among Desert Storm forces. Despite this — in

fact, he believes, because of it — Peterson says he has never seen troop

morale higher.


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