Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Chaplain's Bodyguard

U.S. Navy RP3 Nathaniel Young is the kind of American I love meeting overseas: energetic, enthusiastic, and full of hope about what is possible in the world.

Young served on the USS Comstock in the Iraq War, but now he is waging a different kind of warfare. He wants to teach a new generation of Muslim children in the Horn of Africa that Americans are the good guys.

The chaplain corps and staff here at Camp Lemonier and the larger Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa have adopted a couple of local orphanages in Djibouti. They have raised thousands of dollars and organized uncountable volunteer hours from soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to help out at the orphanage.

Talking to us on a dirt soccer field full of orphans and American military personnel, Young describes himself as "the chaplain's bodyguard." His rank, RP3, means he is one of the Navy's Religion Program Specialists. He plays soccer and basketball with the boys in this orphanage at least once a week, and he brings a van full of volunteers from Camp Lemonier with him each time.

The faces of the kids here beam from the attention they receive in this program. But none shines more brightly than the smile of RP3 Young.
--Keith Porter

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