COLUMBIA, S.C. (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert addressed 21 graduates of the Professional Naval Chaplaincy Basic Leadership Course during their graduation ceremony at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center May 20.
"Our chaplains are a special group of people," said Greenert. "They are trusted by our Sailors, and they make sure our Navy is spiritually ready."
During Greenert's remarks he highlighted the key and critical roles the new chaplains will bring to the Navy and its leaders.
"What you do is incredibility important to our fleet," said Greenert. "As you go around the world and into harm's way, we will turn to you."
Chief of Navy Chaplains Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben was also in attendance, offering the invocation and benediction. Kibben echoed the CNO's remarks reminding the newest chaplains that they should be "where it matters, when it matters, bringing what matters to care for the religious and spiritual needs of Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and their families."
Greenert also encouraged the graduates to remember their heritage and the significance of being role models. He used the example of Father Capodanno to get his point across. Capodanno was a Roman Catholic chaplain during Vietnam who served with the Marines and died in battle. He was awarded the Medal of Honor and had a ship named in his honor.
Capt. Mark Smith, a Navy chaplain and commanding officer for Naval Chaplaincy School and Center (NCSC), described the CNO's visit and participation in the graduation as a clear signal to these new chaplains of the importance the Navy places on the work of well-trained naval chaplains caring for Sailors.
"Adm. Greenert's presence imprinted upon our graduates that who they are and what they do is vital to all who serve in our great Navy," Smith said.
The class leader, Lt. j.g. Susan Maginn, was the recipient of the Stanley Beach Leadership Award for exhibiting exceptional potential for leadership in ministry. The award is named for retired Navy chaplain Capt. Stanley Beach who served with the Marine Corps during Vietnam. He sustained severe leg and stomach injuries while ministering to wounded Marines and carrying them to aid stations.
"Personally, I really value all of the training I have received. The ethics course taught by Capt. Rick Rubel was powerful," said Maginn, who is looking forward to her first duty station at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.
Lt. Joseph Gilliam is new to the military, having served as a senior pastor of a church for 11 years.
"During my time at NCSC, the most valuable items to me were working with and learning from my peers and colleagues. We grew through the challenges of diversity, such as different theological viewpoints," Gilliam said.
Lt. j.g. Nathan Grooms also came to the Chaplain Corps without any prior military experience. The past 15 years he served as a minister with little experience in working with divergent faith groups.
"I have grown to value pluralism," Grooms said. "Dealing with diversity gave me an exceptional opportunity to grow through dialogue with my peers and instructors."
When he leaves NCSC, Grooms will join the 2nd Marine Division 2nd Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
For more information on the Naval Education and Training Command, including the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center, visit the NETC website: http://www.netc.navy.mil.
For more news on the Navy Chaplain Corps, visit: http://www.chaplain.navy.mil