Naval Chaplains School to Hold Last Graduation in Newport

Story Number: NNS090812-05Release Date: 8/12/2009 5:46:00 AM
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By Cmdr. Brian Simpson, Naval Chaplains School Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- The final graduation ceremony of the Naval Chaplains School (NCS) at Newport, R.I. will take place Aug. 12.

Graduating are 30 chaplains and chaplain candidates who have completed the basic course of instruction preparing them to serve the men and women of the sea services - Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

Following the ceremony, the NCS will move to Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. where it will join the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School and the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Service Institute in forming the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center. This move is a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission's 2005 mandated collocation of schools and is designed to foster closer cooperation among the three chaplain corps as well as enhance opportunities for shared instruction and training.

"This marks the end of an era in Newport where we've trained tens of thousands of Navy chaplains who have served during peacetime and conflict all over the world," said Capt. Michael W. Langston, commanding officer, Naval Chaplains School. "We anticipate the move to Fort Jackson and the standup of the new Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center will mark a new chapter of excellence and achievement for our chaplain corps and for our sister services, the Army and the Air Force."

Along with the move will come a new name. In addition to training clergy to serve as chaplains, the school will also train religious program specialists (RPs), the enlisted support rating for Navy chaplains. No longer the Naval Chaplains School, it will become the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center.

The school came into existence in February 1942, when large numbers of civilian clergy, most with no military experience, entered the Navy during World War II. These pastors, priests and rabbis stepped forward to meet the religious needs of the millions of young men and women who were joining the Navy and Marine Corps. First located at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., the school moved shortly thereafter to the campus of the College of William and Mary in nearby Williamsburg, Va. The school was decommissioned Nov. 15, 1945.

In 1951, after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, the increased requirement for chaplains dictated the need once again for an indoctrination course for new Navy clergy. The NCS was re-established in Newport, R.I., as part of Naval Schools Command.

During the time the NCS has been in Newport, it has trained more than 50,000 chaplains to serve the men and women of the sea services. The last 10 chiefs of chaplains (two-star admirals) have been graduates of the school. Also among its graduates, the school counts Chaplain Robert Brett, for whom the NCS building is named, who was killed in action at Khe Sanh, South Vietnam less than six months after his graduation. Chaplain Vincent Capodanno, another NCS graduate, was also killed in action in Vietnam and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valor, while Rear Adm. Barry Black, retired from active duty and went on to be chaplain for the United States Senate.

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