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Title:
Interview with Ken Beale, May 2, 2008
Date:
May 2, 2008
Description:
Interview with retired Chaplain Ken Beale.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Beale, Ken Interviewer: Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview: 5/2/2008 Series: Military Chaplains Length 60 minutes

Zarbock: Good morning. My name is Paul Zarbock, a staff person with the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Randall Library. Today is the 2nd of May in the year 2008 and we're working in Kansas City, Missouri. This is part of the military chaplains oral history project sponsored by the University of North Carolina Wilmington and supported by the Fed-Ex Corporation. Today-this aft-this morning we're interviewing Chaplain Ken Beale. Good morning, sir.

Beale: Good morning, Paul.

Zarbock: Chaplain, to start off with, what individual or series of individuals or event or series of events led you into the ministry?

Beale: Well that actually would probably have been one of the last things in the world I would ever choose to do because I'm a preacher's kid. My dad's a United Methodist pastor, now retired, in Eastern Pennsylvania, Conference of the United Methodist Church. So I grew up in the church and frankly it would have been the last thing in the world I'd ever choose to do, which leads me to a different choice in semantics. I felt the call to ministry. A series of events leading out of high school, I graduated from high school not, frankly not as a very good student.

Zarbock: What high school?

Beale: I attended Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, graduating in the class of '70, and I was in, Paul, that half of my high school class that made the top half possible. I was not a very good student and I felt this tugging of God toward ministry. Continually God used people to communicate. When I'd have occasion, I was a Boy Scout, rose to the rank of Eagle Scout, and would preach on Boy Scout Sunday in my dad's church, my home church, and numerous people, instruments of God at the time, would say I think you're missing your calling, that you should be a minister. Well, as I say, as a preacher's kid it's the last thing in the world that I would choose to do but repeatedly I felt that tugging, culminating ultimately in a sermon by the associate pastor while my mom and dad were on some vacation and I was about 17, 18, about to take off to a community college, the only institution that would take me at that time because I didn't have the grades to get into the conventional even state school, and he was preaching on Romans 8:28, which is a verse that says, "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called, according to his purpose." And upon the preaching of that text, in the midst of the sermon sitting right in the pew of where I sat every Sunday, 52 Sundays a year, I began to cry and I was moved toward a point of surrender and in the stillness of my own heart I said Lord, if you can take someone who's in the bottom half of his high school class and the challenge it would be to get through college and get on to seminary, I'm yours and I surrender, and at that point, in the midst of that message, I surrendered to the call to ministry. Wrote a note that night to my folks who were due in that Sunday evening, left it on their pillow because I went ahead to bed, indicating that I had surrendered to this calling, and well then my folks came and woke me that night, rejoicing with tears in their eyes that I had made this and it was then that my mother informed me that at the time in which she was blessed to have me as her first child five years into marriage, she dedicated me to the Lord's work. Now, I have to say, Paul, I'm glad that she didn't tell me that from the get-go or I may have resisted all the more in that rebellious state of sin, if you will, but they rejoiced with me and I can testify that God, upon giving me that sense of calling and that sense of direction, I went on to complete college at Westchester State College in Pennsylvania with my Bachelors of Science and Education and then on to Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where I graduated ironically Magna Cum Laude at that seminary, went back a few years later and have then earned my doctorate degree from the same institution.

Zarbock: There you are and you are now ordained. Is that correct?

Beale: Yes. Actually next month on the 15th of June of 2008 I will celebrate 30 years of ordained ministry as a United Methodist.

Zarbock: Why did you enter the military?

Beale: Well that's an interesting one because I came in very late. I came in at the age of 35 and it was prompted by services frankly of my own preaching in my first church, where I served for 10 years, and part of my preaching was how America appeared to be on this slippery slope and we, at that point, Bible had, Bible reading had been removed from the public schools, prayer was being removed from schools, and I was saying, yet we have our military, our services have chaplains and that that may well be the next thing to go. And at that thought I realized I needed to put some meat to what I was preaching, that the greatest threat to military chaplaincy wasn't really the Madeline Muriel O'Hara, or the separation of church and state issues, per se. It was the lack of clergy willing to serve, and so with that, at 35, with no prior service, I said I need to become an Army chaplain. And there were influences along the way, not least of which was a local high school principal where I had run for elected office and was on the school board and he continually kept saying you know, you would make a great army chaplain. You should consider that. And I had never given the consideration to that. My dad was in World War II but he was an enlisted soldier in field artillery. So he was not a chaplain. So I really didn't know any military chaplains when I came into it, and that was 20 years ago. I've been 20 years in the Army and I'll retire at about 25 years of service as an Army chaplain.

Zarbock: Was the-what were the things going on in the world when you decided to become a chaplain? What as the economic, what was the political situation? Were we in Vietnam?

Beale: No. Actually we were in Vietnam while I was in college and I never even considered military at that time. Actually only recently did I come to discover why didn't I go to Vietnam? And what I came to discover was while rummaging through some old college books, that I had a document, I don't know what the form number was, but I had a student deferment. Because I have a late birthday, my birthday's in October, I had enrolled full-time at the college in September, and so I had a full course load. My lottery number, because it was a draft at the time, was 30-something. I should have gone. But when I appeared at 18 before Selective Service, they saw that I was a full-time enrolled student at the college, they stamped me student deferment and they said we'll see you in four years. Well, of course, by '73, that was 1970, by '73 we weren't shipping anymore to Vietnam. So I did not have that going on to the University of Saigon, if you will, but the call to the chaplaincy for me came in the mid 7-pardon-mid 80s. That was a context of a number of things, what I call the slippery slope that was occurring in the moral scenes of our nation, what was happening in public schools, of course the remnants of the anti-establishment, which was my generation. I'm a baby boomer and that all had to play in it.

Zarbock: The conflict in Vietnam is spiraling down or gone. The Army is downsizing. How come they needed you?

Beale: Well there have always, wouldn't say always, it's been very challenging for the Army chaplaincy to totally fill its ranks in terms of those assigned against the authorizations and yes, there was an element of downsizing and there were a number of people, particularly on active duty, who were let go, if you will, in the course, at that period of time. I came into the Army Reserve, where there was great need for chaplains to serve, what at the time were nicknamed as Weekend Warriors. Army Reserve folk were people who drilled one week at a month and then they went to two weeks known as Summer Camp. Quite a bit different today. Now they're called Battle Assemblies on drill weekends. About 60-some percent of all the Army Reserve force has been mobilized in the global war on terrorism.

Zarbock: Well, Sir, there really was a need in the vacancy for people who were--

Beale: Particularly in the Army Reserve there was a need, continues to be a need, for chaplains in the Reserve.

Zarbock: What was your 24-hour day life look like? Were you still a pastor in the church in addition to being in the Reserve?

Beale: Yes. I was a pastor in a church full-time serving in United Methodist Church. I ended up in a transition of taking on what in our church at the time called an appointment beyond the local church. United Methodists are appointed by bishops one year at a time to assignments and I had the pleasure of being assigned to work full-time with the Boy Scouts of America and I became the first director for relationships in a local Boy Scout Council. That's scouting related to what they call their partners, their chartered partners. Schools, churches, service clubs, fraternal organizations, who charter with scouting to deliver a program to you, and my role is to be the director of relationships with that and I had the pleasure of doing that for about eight years at Indianhead Council Boy Scouts of America in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Zarbock: How did you parcel out your day-your time?

Beale: Well, at the time, of course, it was pre-9/11 and so my role with the Army was pretty much confined to that one weekend a month and a couple of weeks for annual training as we call it. So I didn't have a high demand related to the Army other than the benchmarks the Army required in military education to make sure you get to your advanced course and ultimately I did attend a general staff college and most recently just last week I was offered a seat and I accepted a seat to the Army War College.

Zarbock: What will be your role there?

Beale: Well, I'll be a student and I'll have the next two years, unfortunately not in residence at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, but what we affectionately call the Ten Book of the Month Club, they'll send me volumes of books to read, papers to write, and Lord willing two years from now I'll graduate from the War College and--

Zarbock: Stumbling out of your house exhausted but--

Beale: Yes. Yes.

Zarbock: --certificates suitable for framing.

Beale: That's it. That's it. The same parchment as those that will go in residence.

Zarbock: What will that mean for your career pathway?

Beale: Well, if I may I'll share where I am now and where I am soon to go. For the last four years, almost to the day, tomorrow the 3rd of May marks four years ago I reported to USARC. The United States Army Recruiting Command. I went from Minnesota, where I was serving at a regional support command, and I assumed the responsibility of being the Chief of Chaplain Recruiting for all the Army and particularly recruiting for the active component, the regular Army, as well as the recruiting responsibility for the U.S. Army Reserve Command for Reserve. Four years ago I came into that position. It's a job that's pretty intense in terms of we have a mission that needs to be achieved, needs to be met, a numeric one, but I've been blessed the last four years to have enjoyed, during a time of persistent war, have enjoyed each year a record-breaking recruiting year results. Breaking our own records three times over.

Zarbock: How many military chaplains are there in the Army?

Beale: Well there's over 3,000 currently assigned in various positions. Actually closer to about 3,500, and that's across three composts as we say. It's the regular Army, that's the full-time, the active component; there is the USAR, the U.S. Army Reserve; and then there is the Army National Guard. And across those three composts of the United States Army there are some 3,500 chaplains currently in the ranks. Now, unfortunately, there's a delta, as we say, between what we've got and what we need. We are assigned many, many more. We have about a 4-- it's between 400-500 vacancies. That's the delta that we have. That's the challenge we face in recruiting for the Army chaplaincy. Thank God we've had the joy of watching and witnessing three consecutive record-breaking years and again, in the context of a persistent war, God is faithful to be calling men and women to this form of ministry and I praise God that our recruiters, people who make referrals, have communicated with these people who are seeking to discern a call from God to do this particular ministry. Our recruiters have been able to help affirm that call and assist them in pursuing that, not only the consideration of the call, but the answering of the call to be an Army chaplain.

Zarbock: This is the year 2008. I think I may have mentioned to you, as long as the planet Earth can manufacture electricity, your words are going to be available so that at the year 2008, what was the situation with female chaplains entering the United States Army? I think years from now it would be kind of interesting to use whatever it is you're going to say as a benchmark to what has happened in the future. What is the situation with female military chaplains entering the Army?

Beale: Well over the years we've seen an increasing number of females to respond to this call of ministry and we hope to continue to see more and more respond to that call. There are very few limitations as to where a female chaplain could function and perform their ministry. Those gender barriers are about torn down as to where they could possibly serve. And it's understandable when you consider that much of what we draw from to get chaplains are today's seminaries and in 2008, as you point out, the taping of this, it's about across the board, of course it will vary from faith group to faith group, but about 55% of our seminary students are female. So when you go to that market to have them consider this as a viable form of fulfilling their ministry that you're going to impact and come face-to-face as recruiters to a 55% of available folk are among the female gender.

Zarbock: What are the gender restrictions currently for female chaplains?

Beale: Well I don't know the specifics in that I'm in recruiting. I'm not in assignments. There might be some limitations as to if parts of our Army are still gendered in terms of infantry of that nature because uniquely, and I guess I'd like to make this point as I suspect others have as well, what's unique about Army chaplaincy and not to put down any other branches of chaplaincy, but so much of what we hinge on in Army chaplaincy is ministry of presence. To go find a chaplain in the Army is not to go back to the base chapel or go up onto the bridge or something like that. Chaplains go forward, share foxholes with our soldiers, and that's part of our ministry and of course we're involved, as we say doctrinally, we initially are involved with that of nurturing the living, day in and day out. Of course, in the midst of battle we're very much involved with that of caring for the wounded, and then ultimately it falls to us as chaplains to appropriately honor the dead. And that's all part of what we do as Army chaplains, but it's very, very much a ministry of presence and it is our desire to be right there where our brave men and women of this nation are in harm's way. Now, of course, we're non-combatants, and not only are we non-combatants but we may not bear arms whatsoever. But the Army, in its wisdom and doctrine, has given us an NCO who functions as our Chaplain Assistant and they are there to help protect us and they do an awesome job and I'm grateful for those who had the wisdom to see the establishment of what we call a UMT, a Unit Ministry Team.

Zarbock: Yes, I understand that the Chaplain's Assistant has a spread of duties and obligations, including but not limited to being a driver, being a bodyguard--

Beale: Mmm-hmm.

Zarbock: --being an associate, being an assistant, and a variety of other roles.

Beale: Yes.

Zarbock: Chaplain, you've been in the military, associated with the military, for over 20 years.

Beale: Twenty years, yes.

Zarbock: If you please, could you tell me a couple of soldiers' stories that are humorous, funny would be better but I'll go with humorous. And by the way, I'm going to hit you with sad next. Maybe you could--

Beale: Wow. Humorous. Well I'm struggling with something that I would call humorous. But it doesn't mean that I've been in a lack of laughs in the course of the past 20 years.

Zarbock: I'll go with heartwarming too.

Beale: Yeah. Well, I think nothing tugs more at perhaps the heart of any chaplain that when you lock eyes with a soldier and I have had that where in essence they say to you I never knew what a chaplain did until I met you. I remember specifically in Desert Storm I had the task and responsibility of people who were being processed from the IRR back in to fill, to backfill our active component before the ground war could start in Desert Storm, and I can remember particularly I had just a roomful of people who were waiting to speak with a chaplain. This one fellow came to me and he said that he's being tasked to become a part of an artillery battery and he said, "Chaplain, I have never been near a Howitzer, I don't know what to do." And I said, "You're kidding me." He said, "Yes, my unit just barely put my name in that spot to fill it." So to make a long story short, I asked for his unit's phone number, I called, I found out that-- I should back up and say if you want me to interject a little humor, I said, "Well what did you do on drill weekends at your unit?" and he very sheepishly said, "Well, I cut the grass and I cleaned the toilets." And all that was going through my mind is we're about, we're just a couple days away from putting this guy on a C-140 and sending him to either Korea or Germany to accompany a battery around an artillery piece and this guy would not be a contributor at all. He'd put them in harm's way. And so, when I made that call I had it confirmed that the unit had barely put him in a fill and that he was not trained MOS qualified in that. I started the process, hand-carried him over to process him out and send him home. And much to my surprise but also blessing, and if I was wearing my Class A uniform I could show it to you because I put a note, a thank you note that he wrote me back, which he didn't have to, but he wrote me back at Fort Sill and he said, "You know, I never knew what a chaplain did until I met you," and he thanked me for what I had done for him. I've put that and been carrying that for now some 15 years in the pocket of my Class A is that thank you note from that soldier.

Zarbock: So were you involved in the combat situation in--

Beale: I have, believe it or not, 20 years I have not been in any theater of operation. I was mobilized as a reservist for Desert Storm, Desert Shield. My assignment was to go to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, with a cadre of about 500 from a training division--

Zarbock: Excuse me, what were you doing when you were mobilized?

Beale: I was working for the Boy Scouts and sitting in my office and a phone call was received in that time from the 4th Army Chaplain, a Full-Bird Colonel, who I did not know and I was a mere First Lieutenant and had no prior service in the Army but all I knew is when he asked me very directly, "Will you serve or not?" I knew in this tone of voice there was only one answer, and that was to serve or I was going to have a very short-lived career, this First Lieutenant, and so I did. Packed up, had about less than a week to pack it up and report to Fort Sill, and there for a couple month's time served with a cadre that was processing some 16-- well, over 2,000 were invited to the party. They were artillery people who were in the IRR and they received orders in the mail with a one-way travel voucher to report to Fort Sill by such-and-such a date, and 1,600 of them showed up and our job with that training division was in 10 days' time to put them into uniform, run them through 10 days of basic training all over again, and put them on aircraft, some going to Korea, some going to Germany, to serve as the backfill on the weapons in those two countries because the active had gone into the Gulf. And so those weapons, lest there be a breakout elsewhere during that time, they would have been manned. So that was the little piece of action that I had in the midst of the war.

Zarbock: When you were activated, were you married?

Beale: Yes.

Zarbock: Okay, so you're sitting in your office and you get a telephone call from a Bird Colonel that says Lieutenant, will you or will you not, and you say you will.

Beale: Mmm-hmm.

Zarbock: So you go home that night and you say to your wife, "The funniest thing happened today."

Beale: Well it wasn't quite that. It had always been understood that this could happen and, of course, we were seeing the ramping up that was occurring and many reservists knew that. I'd say the toughest part was realizing and knowing that I had four children that would be a part at that point in time and they were ranging from about 10 thereabouts down to 4. We kept contact through cards and letters and that type of thing. Of course, I was still stateside so telephonic was available and was there.

Zarbock: But the wife of a military chaplain really has a very, well, the wife of any professional military person, has a very heavy task.

Beale: Mmm-hmm. Yeah. Well I think sometimes perhaps the American people, if I may just take that brushstroke, fail sometimes to realize that it's not just our service members that are in-- the anxiety of separation and so forth. In fact, I've heard many a service member, and I'd have to agree, that because we're going with people that we trained with, we've been associated with, with a system that we know is going to make it a point to feed us, to bunk us down, to house us, to care for us, our greater concern is what's happening with our family members back at home who don't necessarily have that support network. And that's particularly evident on those that, again, I was a reserve chaplain. When you're apart from an installation which has some of those built-in support mechanisms right there and you're some distance from any installation, sometimes you're just out there alone. But the Army has come a long way, tremendous lessons learned from Desert Storm, to the caring of families. There are very meaningful, significant family support groups. Of course, we've elevated to an electronic age, the whole Internet as a means of keeping in touch and communicating has been a tremendous asset. But the Army's also taken particular care upon our returning troops for reunion issues and, you know, quite regularly now both married as well as single soldiers have an opportunity for a marriage enrichment retreat or for a singles retreat which, shortly after they get back, is very structured to provide some rebuilding within that family unit.

Zarbock: And desperately needed.

Beale: Mmm-hmm.

Zarbock: Desperately. (pause) Chaplain, you're betwixt and between aren't you? Aren't you due for a new duty assignment?

Beale: I am. After four years at USARC as Chief of Chaplain Recruiting, I'm going to be next assigned and have a report date of 15 July, 2008, to USARC, which is United States Army Reserve Command. It's the higher headquarters of all the Army Reserve, that whole compost of the Army. I'll have the pleasure of serving the Chief of the Army Reserve, Lieutenant General Jack Stultz and--

Zarbock: How do you spell that?

Beale: Stultz? Oh boy. I'm not certain how he spells that. I think it's S-T-U-L-T-Z, but I'm not certain of that spelling. I guess I'll get to know that when I report there. But yeah, USARC is the higher headquarters for all the Army Reserve and so I'll have the pleasure of working both with full-time chaplains, chaplain assistants in that down trace of subordinate units, as well as the TPUs, Troop Program Unit: chaplains, chaplain assistants. That's the reservists who come together for battle assemblies on weekends and annual training and so forth.

Zarbock: Where will you be living?

Beale: I've got to do my search for housing yet but I'll be stationed, the office will be at Fort McPherson, Georgia.

Zarbock: One of the, two questions. At anytime during your military career have you ever been ordered? Have you ever been hinted at or have you ever at any time with a wink and a nod, a nudge, asked to do something that you thought was in violation of your personal ethic, your religious beliefs, or military orders? Have you been ever asked to cheat a little bit? No, Sir, to be--

Beale: Or to compromise?

Zarbock: Be diplomatic.

Beale: Right, right. No, I will say, and this is by no means any attempt at a company line, I'm endorsed by the United Methodist Church, I am a Christian, I have never been put in a spot where I've been told that I cannot pray in Jesus' name, that I cannot have the Evangelical fervor that I have for persons that have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I think what happens as you work and move and have your being in a pluralistic environment is you need to know for yourself and resolve within yourself at what point in times and in what settings will you impose that, if you will, if I may use that term, on that. Every event or ceremony that I'm called upon in which to pray does not have to be an Evangelistic crusade in which I'm trying to convert my audience, if you will. I want to embrace all those that have gathered and I've been singled out to pray on behalf of those gathered and so I've developed a sensitivity to that. I know that a chapel setting is a setting in which I'm going to very openly talk about my conviction that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. But no one comes to the Father but by Him, but I recruit and part of the recruiting mission that recruits across the board for faith groups, not just that whole element of General Protestant and Roman Catholic and Jewish, but we have individual missions for Muslim, for Buddhist. We also recruit for Orthodox. We embrace all of that. I've come to realize over time that, to use a military term as well, is you've got to be selective on what swords you're willing to fall on and you can't fall on them all. When I was younger I would say I fell on a number of swords and bled, perhaps unnecessarily, but you need to be select in those. And the first thing I need to do is establish a relationship with people which builds a trust level and then have opportunity to deal, work, and minister to them on a one-to-one basis. There's often a place and a setting in which I can profess my own faith and what difference Christ has made in my life and, in turn, I believe could make in your life as well.

Zarbock: And this essentially is your credo, isn't it?

Beale: Well it's certainly my personal credo. The expectation, part of our training within the Army chaplaincy is to work and move and have our being within a pluralistic environment. I think one of the most outstanding examples of this was in 1943. It was February 3rd, it was 1:00 a.m. in the morning. There were 900 and some soldiers being transported on a ship, a transport called the USS Dorchester, and on that Dorchester were four chaplains. One was Jewish. That was Chaplain Goode. One was a Roman Catholic. That was Father Washington. And then two Protestant chaplains. A Chaplain Fox, who was a United Methodist or a Methodist, rather, at that time, and then also a, wow, I know, boy, Poling, Chaplain Poling. Chaplain Poling, and he was also of the Protestant faith. And those four chaplains, to make a long story short, a German U-boat fired at 1:00 a.m. several torpedoes on the Dorchester. In a mere 18 minutes that ship went down. Two hundred and some survived. All the others perished. It was the third worst record of casualties, of fatalities, at sea during World War II. But what was noted and was the testimony of many was that these four chaplains sought to comfort and care for these four chaplains, for those coming up out of the hull of the ship, many of which did not come up with their life jackets. They were distributing life jackets up on the deck from the storage bins, and what was noted is when they run out of those lifejackets, these four chaplains independently took their own life jackets off and handed it to the next soldier in line. Didn't ask him what faith group you are, you know. Rabbi Goode didn't ask if that soldier was Jewish. Each gave it to them and the last testimonies of those who witnessed the four chaplains was they were all locked arm-in-arm on the deck of that ship and went down with the ship. And that exemplifies for me as an Army chaplain, those Army chaplains, the whole concept of our working together in a pluralistic setting.

Zarbock: Chaplain, to start off with, what individual or series of individuals or event or series of events led you into the ministry?

Beale: Well that actually would probably have been one of the last things in the world I would ever choose to do because I'm a preacher's kid. My dad's a United Methodist pastor, now retired, in Eastern Pennsylvania, Conference of the United Methodist Church. So I grew up in the church and frankly it would have been the last thing in the world I'd ever choose to do, which leads me to a different choice in semantics. I felt the call to ministry. A series of events leading out of high school, I graduated from high school not, frankly not as a very good student.

Zarbock: What high school?

Beale: I attended Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, graduating in the class of '70, and I was in, Paul, that half of my high school class that made the top half possible. I was not a very good student and I felt this tugging of God toward ministry. Continually God used people to communicate. When I'd have occasion, I was a Boy Scout, rose to the rank of Eagle Scout, and would preach on Boy Scout Sunday in my dad's church, my home church, and numerous people, instruments of God at the time, would say I think you're missing your calling, that you should be a minister. Well, as I say, as a preacher's kid it's the last thing in the world that I would choose to do but repeatedly I felt that tugging, culminating ultimately in a sermon by the associate pastor while my mom and dad were on some vacation and I was about 17, 18, about to take off to a community college, the only institution that would take me at that time because I didn't have the grades to get into the conventional even state school, and he was preaching on Romans 8:28, which is a verse that says, "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called, according to his purpose." And upon the preaching of that text, in the midst of the sermon sitting right in the pew of where I sat every Sunday, 52 Sundays a year, I began to cry and I was moved toward a point of surrender and in the stillness of my own heart I said Lord, if you can take someone who's in the bottom half of his high school class and the challenge it would be to get through college and get on to seminary, I'm yours and I surrender, and at that point, in the midst of that message, I surrendered to the call to ministry. Wrote a note that night to my folks who were due in that Sunday evening, left it on their pillow because I went ahead to bed, indicating that I had surrendered to this calling, and well then my folks came and woke me that night, rejoicing with tears in their eyes that I had made this and it was then that my mother informed me that at the time in which she was blessed to have me as her first child five years into marriage, she dedicated me to the Lord's work. Now, I have to say, Paul, I'm glad that she didn't tell me that from the get-go or I may have resisted all the more in that rebellious state of sin, if you will, but they rejoiced with me and I can testify that God, upon giving me that sense of calling and that sense of direction, I went on to complete college at Westchester State College in Pennsylvania with my Bachelors of Science and Education and then on to Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where I graduated ironically Magna Cum Laude at that seminary, went back a few years later and have then earned my doctorate degree from the same institution.

Zarbock: There you are and you are now ordained. Is that correct?

Beale: Yes. Actually next month on the 15th of June of 2008 I will celebrate 30 years of ordained ministry as a United Methodist.

Zarbock: Why did you enter the military?

Beale: Well that's an interesting one because I came in very late. I came in at the age of 35 and it was prompted by services frankly of my own preaching in my first church, where I served for 10 years, and part of my preaching was how America appeared to be on this slippery slope and we, at that point, Bible had, Bible reading had been removed from the public schools, prayer was being removed from schools, and I was saying, yet we have our military, our services have chaplains and that that may well be the next thing to go. And at that thought I realized I needed to put some meat to what I was preaching, that the greatest threat to military chaplaincy wasn't really the Madeline Muriel O'Hara, or the separation of church and state issues, per se. It was the lack of clergy willing to serve, and so with that, at 35, with no prior service, I said I need to become an Army chaplain. And there were influences along the way, not least of which was a local high school principal where I had run for elected office and was on the school board and he continually kept saying you know, you would make a great army chaplain. You should consider that. And I had never given the consideration to that. My dad was in World War II but he was an enlisted soldier in field artillery. So he was not a chaplain. So I really didn't know any military chaplains when I came into it, and that was 20 years ago. I've been 20 years in the Army and I'll retire at about 25 years of service as an Army chaplain.

Zarbock: Was the-what were the things going on in the world when you decided to become a chaplain? What as the economic, what was the political situation? Were we in Vietnam?

Beale: No. Actually we were in Vietnam while I was in college and I never even considered military at that time. Actually only recently did I come to discover why didn't I go to Vietnam? And what I came to discover was while rummaging through some old college books, that I had a document, I don't know what the form number was, but I had a student deferment. Because I have a late birthday, my birthday's in October, I had enrolled full-time at the college in September, and so I had a full course load. My lottery number, because it was a draft at the time, was 30-something. I should have gone. But when I appeared at 18 before Selective Service, they saw that I was a full-time enrolled student at the college, they stamped me student deferment and they said we'll see you in four years. Well, of course, by '73, that was 1970, by '73 we weren't shipping anymore to Vietnam. So I did not have that going on to the University of Saigon, if you will, but the call to the chaplaincy for me came in the mid 7-pardon-mid 80s. That was a context of a number of things, what I call the slippery slope that was occurring in the moral scenes of our nation, what was happening in public schools, of course the remnants of the anti-establishment, which was my generation. I'm a baby boomer and that all had to play in it.

Zarbock: The conflict in Vietnam is spiraling down or gone. The Army is downsizing. How come they needed you?

Beale: Well there have always, wouldn't say always, it's been very challenging for the Army chaplaincy to totally fill its ranks in terms of those assigned against the authorizations and yes, there was an element of downsizing and there were a number of people, particularly on active duty, who were let go, if you will, in the course, at that period of time. I came into the Army Reserve, where there was great need for chaplains to serve, what at the time were nicknamed as Weekend Warriors. Army Reserve folk were people who drilled one week at a month and then they went to two weeks known as Summer Camp. Quite a bit different today. Now they're called Battle Assemblies on drill weekends. About 60-some percent of all the Army Reserve force has been mobilized in the global war on terrorism.

Zarbock: Well, Sir, there really was a need in the vacancy for people who were--

Beale: Particularly in the Army Reserve there was a need, continues to be a need, for chaplains in the Reserve.

Zarbock: What was your 24-hour day life look like? Were you still a pastor in the church in addition to being in the Reserve?

Beale: Yes. I was a pastor in a church full-time serving in United Methodist Church. I ended up in a transition of taking on what in our church at the time called an appointment beyond the local church. United Methodists are appointed by bishops one year at a time to assignments and I had the pleasure of being assigned to work full-time with the Boy Scouts of America and I became the first director for relationships in a local Boy Scout Council. That's scouting related to what they call their partners, their chartered partners. Schools, churches, service clubs, fraternal organizations, who charter with scouting to deliver a program to you, and my role is to be the director of relationships with that and I had the pleasure of doing that for about eight years at Indianhead Council Boy Scouts of America in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Zarbock: How did you parcel out your day-your time?

Beale: Well, at the time, of course, it was pre-9/11 and so my role with the Army was pretty much confined to that one weekend a month and a couple of weeks for annual training as we call it. So I didn't have a high demand related to the Army other than the benchmarks the Army required in military education to make sure you get to your advanced course and ultimately I did attend a general staff college and most recently just last week I was offered a seat and I accepted a seat to the Army War College.

Zarbock: What will be your role there?

Beale: Well, I'll be a student and I'll have the next two years, unfortunately not in residence at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, but what we affectionately call the Ten Book of the Month Club, they'll send me volumes of books to read, papers to write, and Lord willing two years from now I'll graduate from the War College and--

Zarbock: Stumbling out of your house exhausted but--

Beale: Yes. Yes.

Zarbock: --certificates suitable for framing.

Beale: That's it. That's it. The same parchment as those that will go in residence.

Zarbock: What will that mean for your career pathway?

Beale: Well, if I may I'll share where I am now and where I am soon to go. For the last four years, almost to the day, tomorrow the 3rd of May marks four years ago I reported to USARC. The United States Army Recruiting Command. I went from Minnesota, where I was serving at a regional support command, and I assumed the responsibility of being the Chief of Chaplain Recruiting for all the Army and particularly recruiting for the active component, the regular Army, as well as the recruiting responsibility for the U.S. Army Reserve Command for Reserve. Four years ago I came into that position. It's a job that's pretty intense in terms of we have a mission that needs to be achieved, needs to be met, a numeric one, but I've been blessed the last four years to have enjoyed, during a time of persistent war, have enjoyed each year a record-breaking recruiting year results. Breaking our own records three times over.

Zarbock: How many military chaplains are there in the Army?

Beale: Well there's over 3,000 currently assigned in various positions. Actually closer to about 3,500, and that's across three composts as we say. It's the regular Army, that's the full-time, the active component; there is the USAR, the U.S. Army Reserve; and then there is the Army National Guard. And across those three composts of the United States Army there are some 3,500 chaplains currently in the ranks. Now, unfortunately, there's a delta, as we say, between what we've got and what we need. We are assigned many, many more. We have about a 4-- it's between 400-500 vacancies. That's the delta that we have. That's the challenge we face in recruiting for the Army chaplaincy. Thank God we've had the joy of watching and witnessing three consecutive record-breaking years and again, in the context of a persistent war, God is faithful to be calling men and women to this form of ministry and I praise God that our recruiters, people who make referrals, have communicated with these people who are seeking to discern a call from God to do this particular ministry. Our recruiters have been able to help affirm that call and assist them in pursuing that, not only the consideration of the call, but the answering of the call to be an Army chaplain.

Zarbock: This is the year 2008. I think I may have mentioned to you, as long as the planet Earth can manufacture electricity, your words are going to be available so that at the year 2008, what was the situation with female chaplains entering the United States Army? I think years from now it would be kind of interesting to use whatever it is you're going to say as a benchmark to what has happened in the future. What is the situation with female military chaplains entering the Army?

Beale: Well over the years we've seen an increasing number of females to respond to this call of ministry and we hope to continue to see more and more respond to that call. There are very few limitations as to where a female chaplain could function and perform their ministry. Those gender barriers are about torn down as to where they could possibly serve. And it's understandable when you consider that much of what we draw from to get chaplains are today's seminaries and in 2008, as you point out, the taping of this, it's about across the board, of course it will vary from faith group to faith group, but about 55% of our seminary students are female. So when you go to that market to have them consider this as a viable form of fulfilling their ministry that you're going to impact and come face-to-face as recruiters to a 55% of available folk are among the female gender.

Zarbock: What are the gender restrictions currently for female chaplains?

Beale: Well I don't know the specifics in that I'm in recruiting. I'm not in assignments. There might be some limitations as to if parts of our Army are still gendered in terms of infantry of that nature because uniquely, and I guess I'd like to make this point as I suspect others have as well, what's unique about Army chaplaincy and not to put down any other branches of chaplaincy, but so much of what we hinge on in Army chaplaincy is ministry of presence. To go find a chaplain in the Army is not to go back to the base chapel or go up onto the bridge or something like that. Chaplains go forward, share foxholes with our soldiers, and that's part of our ministry and of course we're involved, as we say doctrinally, we initially are involved with that of nurturing the living, day in and day out. Of course, in the midst of battle we're very much involved with that of caring for the wounded, and then ultimately it falls to us as chaplains to appropriately honor the dead. And that's all part of what we do as Army chaplains, but it's very, very much a ministry of presence and it is our desire to be right there where our brave men and women of this nation are in harm's way. Now, of course, we're non-combatants, and not only are we non-combatants but we may not bear arms whatsoever. But the Army, in its wisdom and doctrine, has given us an NCO who functions as our Chaplain Assistant and they are there to help protect us and they do an awesome job and I'm grateful for those who had the wisdom to see the establishment of what we call a UMT, a Unit Ministry Team.

Zarbock: Yes, I understand that the Chaplain's Assistant has a spread of duties and obligations, including but not limited to being a driver, being a bodyguard--

Beale: Mmm-hmm.

Zarbock: --being an associate, being an assistant, and a variety of other roles.

Beale: Yes.

Zarbock: Chaplain, you've been in the military, associated with the military, for over 20 years.

Beale: Twenty years, yes.

Zarbock: If you please, could you tell me a couple of soldiers' stories that are humorous, funny would be better but I'll go with humorous. And by the way, I'm going to hit you with sad next. Maybe you could--

Beale: Wow. Humorous. Well I'm struggling with something that I would call humorous. But it doesn't mean that I've been in a lack of laughs in the course of the past 20 years.

Zarbock: I'll go with heartwarming too.

Beale: Yeah. Well, I think nothing tugs more at perhaps the heart of any chaplain that when you lock eyes with a soldier and I have had that where in essence they say to you I never knew what a chaplain did until I met you. I remember specifically in Desert Storm I had the task and responsibility of people who were being processed from the IRR back in to fill, to backfill our active component before the ground war could start in Desert Storm, and I can remember particularly I had just a roomful of people who were waiting to speak with a chaplain. This one fellow came to me and he said that he's being tasked to become a part of an artillery battery and he said, "Chaplain, I have never been near a Howitzer, I don't know what to do." And I said, "You're kidding me." He said, "Yes, my unit just barely put my name in that spot to fill it." So to make a long story short, I asked for his unit's phone number, I called, I found out that-- I should back up and say if you want me to interject a little humor, I said, "Well what did you do on drill weekends at your unit?" and he very sheepishly said, "Well, I cut the grass and I cleaned the toilets." And all that was going through my mind is we're about, we're just a couple days away from putting this guy on a C-140 and sending him to either Korea or Germany to accompany a battery around an artillery piece and this guy would not be a contributor at all. He'd put them in harm's way. And so, when I made that call I had it confirmed that the unit had barely put him in a fill and that he was not trained MOS qualified in that. I started the process, hand-carried him over to process him out and send him home. And much to my surprise but also blessing, and if I was wearing my Class A uniform I could show it to you because I put a note, a thank you note that he wrote me back, which he didn't have to, but he wrote me back at Fort Sill and he said, "You know, I never knew what a chaplain did until I met you," and he thanked me for what I had done for him. I've put that and been carrying that for now some 15 years in the pocket of my Class A is that thank you note from that soldier.

Zarbock: So were you involved in the combat situation in--

Beale: I have, believe it or not, 20 years I have not been in any theater of operation. I was mobilized as a reservist for Desert Storm, Desert Shield. My assignment was to go to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, with a cadre of about 500 from a training division--

Zarbock: Excuse me, what were you doing when you were mobilized?

Beale: I was working for the Boy Scouts and sitting in my office and a phone call was received in that time from the 4th Army Chaplain, a Full-Bird Colonel, who I did not know and I was a mere First Lieutenant and had no prior service in the Army but all I knew is when he asked me very directly, "Will you serve or not?" I knew in this tone of voice there was only one answer, and that was to serve or I was going to have a very short-lived career, this First Lieutenant, and so I did. Packed up, had about less than a week to pack it up and report to Fort Sill, and there for a couple month's time served with a cadre that was processing some 16-- well, over 2,000 were invited to the party. They were artillery people who were in the IRR and they received orders in the mail with a one-way travel voucher to report to Fort Sill by such-and-such a date, and 1,600 of them showed up and our job with that training division was in 10 days' time to put them into uniform, run them through 10 days of basic training all over again, and put them on aircraft, some going to Korea, some going to Germany, to serve as the backfill on the weapons in those two countries because the active had gone into the Gulf. And so those weapons, lest there be a breakout elsewhere during that time, they would have been manned. So that was the little piece of action that I had in the midst of the war.

Zarbock: When you were activated, were you married?

Beale: Yes.

Zarbock: Okay, so you're sitting in your office and you get a telephone call from a Bird Colonel that says Lieutenant, will you or will you not, and you say you will.

Beale: Mmm-hmm.

Zarbock: So you go home that night and you say to your wife, "The funniest thing happened today."

Beale: Well it wasn't quite that. It had always been understood that this could happen and, of course, we were seeing the ramping up that was occurring and many reservists knew that. I'd say the toughest part was realizing and knowing that I had four children that would be a part at that point in time and they were ranging from about 10 thereabouts down to 4. We kept contact through cards and letters and that type of thing. Of course, I was still stateside so telephonic was available and was there.

Zarbock: But the wife of a military chaplain really has a very, well, the wife of any professional military person, has a very heavy task.

Beale: Mmm-hmm. Yeah. Well I think sometimes perhaps the American people, if I may just take that brushstroke, fail sometimes to realize that it's not just our service members that are in-- the anxiety of separation and so forth. In fact, I've heard many a service member, and I'd have to agree, that because we're going with people that we trained with, we've been associated with, with a system that we know is going to make it a point to feed us, to bunk us down, to house us, to care for us, our greater concern is what's happening with our family members back at home who don't necessarily have that support network. And that's particularly evident on those that, again, I was a reserve chaplain. When you're apart from an installation which has some of those built-in support mechanisms right there and you're some distance from any installation, sometimes you're just out there alone. But the Army has come a long way, tremendous lessons learned from Desert Storm, to the caring of families. There are very meaningful, significant family support groups. Of course, we've elevated to an electronic age, the whole Internet as a means of keeping in touch and communicating has been a tremendous asset. But the Army's also taken particular care upon our returning troops for reunion issues and, you know, quite regularly now both married as well as single soldiers have an opportunity for a marriage enrichment retreat or for a singles retreat which, shortly after they get back, is very structured to provide some rebuilding within that family unit.

Zarbock: And desperately needed.

Beale: Mmm-hmm.

Zarbock: Desperately. (pause) Chaplain, you're betwixt and between aren't you? Aren't you due for a new duty assignment?

Beale: I am. After four years at USARC as Chief of Chaplain Recruiting, I'm going to be next assigned and have a report date of 15 July, 2008, to USARC, which is United States Army Reserve Command. It's the higher headquarters of all the Army Reserve, that whole compost of the Army. I'll have the pleasure of serving the Chief of the Army Reserve, Lieutenant General Jack Stultz and--

Zarbock: How do you spell that?

Beale: Stultz? Oh boy. I'm not certain how he spells that. I think it's S-T-U-L-T-Z, but I'm not certain of that spelling. I guess I'll get to know that when I report there. But yeah, USARC is the higher headquarters for all the Army Reserve and so I'll have the pleasure of working both with full-time chaplains, chaplain assistants in that down trace of subordinate units, as well as the TPUs, Troop Program Unit: chaplains, chaplain assistants. That's the reservists who come together for battle assemblies on weekends and annual training and so forth.

Zarbock: Where will you be living?

Beale: I've got to do my search for housing yet but I'll be stationed, the office will be at Fort McPherson, Georgia.

Zarbock: One of the, two questions. At anytime during your military career have you ever been ordered? Have you ever been hinted at or have you ever at any time with a wink and a nod, a nudge, asked to do something that you thought was in violation of your personal ethic, your religious beliefs, or military orders? Have you been ever asked to cheat a little bit? No, Sir, to be--

Beale: Or to compromise?

Zarbock: Be diplomatic.

Beale: Right, right. No, I will say, and this is by no means any attempt at a company line, I'm endorsed by the United Methodist Church, I am a Christian, I have never been put in a spot where I've been told that I cannot pray in Jesus' name, that I cannot have the Evangelical fervor that I have for persons that have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I think what happens as you work and move and have your being in a pluralistic environment is you need to know for yourself and resolve within yourself at what point in times and in what settings will you impose that, if you will, if I may use that term, on that. Every event or ceremony that I'm called upon in which to pray does not have to be an Evangelistic crusade in which I'm trying to convert my audience, if you will. I want to embrace all those that have gathered and I've been singled out to pray on behalf of those gathered and so I've developed a sensitivity to that. I know that a chapel setting is a setting in which I'm going to very openly talk about my conviction that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. But no one comes to the Father but by Him, but I recruit and part of the recruiting mission that recruits across the board for faith groups, not just that whole element of General Protestant and Roman Catholic and Jewish, but we have individual missions for Muslim, for Buddhist. We also recruit for Orthodox. We embrace all of that. I've come to realize over time that, to use a military term as well, is you've got to be selective on what swords you're willing to fall on and you can't fall on them all. When I was younger I would say I fell on a number of swords and bled, perhaps unnecessarily, but you need to be select in those. And the first thing I need to do is establish a relationship with people which builds a trust level and then have opportunity to deal, work, and minister to them on a one-to-one basis. There's often a place and a setting in which I can profess my own faith and what difference Christ has made in my life and, in turn, I believe could make in your life as well.

Zarbock: And this essentially is your credo, isn't it?

Beale: Well it's certainly my personal credo. The expectation, part of our training within the Army chaplaincy is to work and move and have our being within a pluralistic environment. I think one of the most outstanding examples of this was in 1943. It was February 3rd, it was 1:00 a.m. in the morning. There were 900 and some soldiers being transported on a ship, a transport called the USS Dorchester, and on that Dorchester were four chaplains. One was Jewish. That was Chaplain Goode. One was a Roman Catholic. That was Father Washington. And then two Protestant chaplains. A Chaplain Fox, who was a United Methodist or a Methodist, rather, at that time, and then also a, wow, I know, boy, Poling, Chaplain Poling. Chaplain Poling, and he was also of the Protestant faith. And those four chaplains, to make a long story short, a German U-boat fired at 1:00 a.m. several torpedoes on the Dorchester. In a mere 18 minutes that ship went down. Two hundred and some survived. All the others perished. It was the third worst record of casualties, of fatalities, at sea during World War II. But what was noted and was the testimony of many was that these four chaplains sought to comfort and care for these four chaplains, for those coming up out of the hull of the ship, many of which did not come up with their life jackets. They were distributing life jackets up on the deck from the storage bins, and what was noted is when they run out of those lifejackets, these four chaplains independently took their own life jackets off and handed it to the next soldier in line. Didn't ask him what faith group you are, you know. Rabbi Goode didn't ask if that soldier was Jewish. Each gave it to them and the last testimonies of those who witnessed the four chaplains was they were all locked arm-in-arm on the deck of that ship and went down with the ship. And that exemplifies for me as an Army chaplain, those Army chaplains, the whole concept of our working together in a pluralistic setting.

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