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Interview with Raymond P. Campbell, May 4, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Raymond P. Campbell, May 4, 2007
May 4, 2007
Interview with Lieutenant-Commander Raymond P. Campbell, U.S. Navy chaplain.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Campbell, Raymond P. Interviewer:  Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview:  5/4/2007 Series:  Military Chaplains Length  60 minutes


Zarbock: Good morning. My name is Paul Zarbock. I'm a staff person with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington's Randall Library. This is part of the Videotape Chaplains Project. We're at Camp Lejeune. It is the 4th of May in the Year 2007. I'm interviewing Lieutenant-Commander Campbell, who is a Navy chaplain assigned to the Marines. Good morning Chaplain, how are you?

Campbell: Sir.

Zarbock: Sir, would you start off by telling what individual or series of individuals, or event or series of events, encouraged you or led you into the selection of the ministry as an occupational category and profession?

Campbell: I was born in Indiana in 1961. My father was a Marine. He was a Chosin Reservoir Marine, survivor of that conflict.

Zarbock: Korean conflict.

Campbell: Korean conflict. And I wanted to please my father very much and I felt a calling to go into the Marine Corps. So in the spring of '79 I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, Delayed Entry Program, and went on Active Duty in January of 1980 as a Marine.

Zarbock: How old were you when you--?

Campbell: I was 18 at the time, I had turned 18, and went into boot camp.

Zarbock: Fresh out of high school.

Campbell: Fresh out of high school; matter of fact I graduated early. I had never-- or I mean I didn't even complete high school. I did complete it but I completed it early. I wanted to get there as fast as I could. Part of my desire was not only to please but it was also to get away. So I went to MCRD San Diego. I left my home in Indiana, found myself on those yellow footprints being yelled at and I said, "What in the world did I do this for?"

Zarbock: I don't know what you mean by a yellow footprint.

Campbell: Well in the Marine Corps when you report to boot camp they have these yellow footprints that kind of guides you and tells you where to stand. So you find yourself standing on the yellow footprints and you go wherever the yellow footprint tells you to go; sort of like the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz. And it was during that time, not only was I finding myself becoming a Marine but I was also wrestling with a call to ministry, a desire to serve God. I wasn't sure what that was all about, bit anyhow got on Active Duty, went to my first unit. And I remember being out in the field, on deployment. We were having some training operations. And up to that point I had never encountered a chaplain before, and I remember I was sitting on radio watch, I was a radio operator, and this young chaplain came down and sat down beside me and started asking me where I was from, and I talked to him about where I was from, and he told me was from Tennessee. We talked for a little bit and found out he was the same denomination I was, Southern Baptist. And as we talked a little bit he kind of guided me through some of the issues I was having in regards to transition, having been away from home, adjustment, those kind of situations. We talked for awhile and he was very compassionate and very caring, and he prayed with me. And I saw him a few times after that, and then a strange- a funny thing happened. They said, "We have too many radio operators right now. We would like to get rid of a few of you and let you go do some other things, and we need somebody to go work in the chaplain's office." I said, "Sure I'll go, I don't mind." And I went and worked in the chaplain's office for this chaplain.

Zarbock: For the same chaplain?

Campbell: For the same chaplain. He became very influential in my working through my calling about ministry and about how God wanted me to serve. And one of the most unique experiences was we deployed shortly thereafter and I was working for him. And we were in his stateroom that night and were playing a game of backgammon, and he said, "You know," he said, "Raymond, the Lord tells me that you're going to be a Navy chaplain." And he reached over and he had a set of lieutenant bars, and he reached over and he handed me that set of lieutenant bars and he said, "I think one day that you might be wearing these." And I'm like okay, no way, I don't see this happening. I don't even feel for sure that I have a definite call to ministry. But he became very, very influential initially. And then he left.

Zarbock: How long had you been in the Marines at that time?

Campbell: I had been in the Marine Corps probably about two years at that point.

Zarbock: All right, so you really had your feet on the ground when it came to how to be a Marine.

Campbell: Yes sir, I did for that. And I really enjoyed the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps was a very fun thing for me-- it was tough but it was fun, I enjoyed that ministry. And another chaplain came and I continued to work for him, and he was a Lutheran chaplain who really helped me formulate my call to ministry, more so than what this guy did. And so I got out of the Marine Corps, after having served four years-- served with him for two years. Got out, went to college, struggled for a little bit financially.

Zarbock: Where did you go to college?

Campbell: At first I went to a satellite campus at Wayland Baptist University in Hawaii, because that's where I was stationed was in Hawaii, and spent about a year there. While I was there my grandmother passed away, so I flew back home from Hawaii to Indiana, went to the funeral, went out with my best friend. He introduced me to his church youth group and in that church youth group I met a young lady six years younger than me who became my wife, after three or four dates. Hum, try to get by with that one today. We've been married almost 22 years. So I can see the hand of God in there, I can see the providence of God. But things weren't working so I said, "This isn't happening." So I joined the Marine Corps again, came back on Active Duty.

Zarbock: As an enlisted man.

Campbell: As an enlisted man. I picked right back up where I left off. I was a corporal at the time. I went back in as a field radio operator, married my wife. Two months later I was sent to Japan for a year unaccompanied. Went over there for a year and came back, and then got out again. Went to college, Campbell University at North Carolina; the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. We-um-finished.

Zarbock: How did you make it financially Chaplain?

Campbell: I don't know now, looking back on it. After having had-- I got out as a sergeant. So living off a sergeant's pay in 1987, going to absolutely nothing-- we took on jobs to make ends meet, managed to somehow or another get loans and pay for college. Then I went to seminary and the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program assisted somewhat. But I sold my artwork in order to pay for seminary. So I like to paint and I sold art to pay for seminary.

Zarbock: Oh, what kind of paintings do you do?

Campbell: Landscape, oil. So I would go to little old outdoor venues and everything and make enough money to pay for seminary to get through. Pastored a church part-time while I was in seminary in Southern Indiana, and then I got finished with seminary, pastored a church here in North Carolina, near Fayetteville. And then here's what is unique and interesting. The chaplain, the Lutheran chaplain that I worked for was still on Active Duty and was the chaplain in charge-- well I can't remember his exact term, but he was at the Chaplain's school in Newport, Rhode Island.

Zarbock: As a student or instructor?

Campbell: As an instructor, as the main, one of the main instructors, and I called him up. It had been maybe-- how many years? 11 years maybe. And I said, "Chaplain, this is," told him my name, and he just went absolutely crazy. "What are you doing? Where have you been?" And I said, "Well I am now a graduate of the seminary;" explained my passion. He says, "Why aren't you in the Navy, why aren't you a chaplain?" And I said, "Well that's what I'm calling you about." And so God had used all of those years of enlisted experience, putting chaplains in my way to kind of guide me, I believe, to speak to me, to help me formulate a call for ministry, to see, not by so much what they said, but by their example, where I thought maybe my gifts were and that maybe perhaps I could touch somebody else's life as a Navy chaplain; so bringing those experiences back. So I did that, I said, "Okay, I can do this."

Zarbock: What did your wife think about this?

Campbell: My wife has always been my biggest support, my best friend, my help. We had gone through many, many highs and lows. After, like I said, after having gotten married to her, two months later being sent to Japan for a year, without her, we started our marriage off in the military with a foundation of deployment and hardship. Then getting out and going through the hardship of school and the finances and those issues. She was very much, I feel this is where we belong too. And so she was very much supportive of it. But it's not been easy because military life is extremely difficult. Ministry within the military is difficult. The hardest things for me, the most difficult things for me has been deploying, deploying as a Navy chaplain. Now when I was in the Marine Corps and I deployed it was fun. I wasn't married at the time. We got to go all kinds of places. But when you have a family and you have to leave your spouse and your boys behind, it's difficult.

Zarbock: How many children do you have?

Campbell: I have two sons, ages 11 and 8.

Zarbock: But did you tell me off camera you had some difficulties with--?

Campbell: Yes, my wife and I, we had difficulties conceiving children and well we'd conceive and we'd lose them. But in the midst of all of our losses we did have two sons that were born and successfully carried to term. So I'm very close to my boys.

Zarbock: How did you handle, and how did you wife handle, those heartbreaks of losing children?

Campbell: Well for us we had an extremely good pastor, a man that I worked for- worked with in ministry when I was going to school, who managed to be there in every situation for us, as a pastor.

Zarbock: Where was this?

Campbell: This was here in North Carolina and this pastor, his name is Jerry Parsons, pastors a church in North Carolina, he was our family pastor. And I think he taught us a great lesson about ministry and the importance of being with people and being there for people.

Zarbock: Chaplain, let me start that a different way instead of cuing you. What sort of emotions did you and your wife share at the time of the spontaneous loss of children?

Campbell: Oh grief, intense grief.

Zarbock: Anger?

Campbell: I don't see anger as much as it was confusion and uncertainty.

Zarbock: Why did this happen to us?

Campbell: Yes, why did this happen to us?

Zarbock: And how could, what did your pastor respond to questions like that?

Campbell: My pastor, we didn't ask him so much those questions as much as we permitted him to just minister to us, to just put his arms around us, to allow us to grieve. To me that's become what ministry is, being there for people, sharing the gospel; a wonderful opportunity. And what I do in my ministry today, I'm primarily assigned with Marines in an academic setting and I get to spend time listening and counseling.

Zarbock: I'm going to say something that has been said so often it sounds like it has become trite, but there's truth within this triteness. Those adversities must have taught you a great deal.

Campbell: Those adversities taught us, yes, a great deal. It taught us, I believe, not only how to shut up and listen sometimes but it taught us to dig deeper, not to settle just for pat answers, and it really helped me in my spiritual journey to move deeper in my reformed faith and trusting in the sovereignty of God, trusting in God's design and his purpose, and having a hope in that has enabled me to share and to listen and to show these young marines that God does have a plan. He does desire to take us in directions that we may not necessarily want to go and in directions we may not know how to go. So looking back on it, I didn't know how some things were going to happen, as a Marine. And these chaplains guided me, and I think-- like that old song says, If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word, a prayer or a song, and if I can show some traveler he's going wrong, then my living shall not be in vain. So these chaplains really helped me and helped me formulate my call to ministry, and I feel like God has called me back, one, because not only of that experience, giving back, but two, the background of the military. I enjoyed being a marine; I can identify with being a marine. But you know, as I was saying, one of the unique experiences for me as a Navy chaplain has been not serving with the Marines, but actually getting to serve onboard a ship.

Zarbock: We were off camera-- and I'd like to probe one other thing. The Lutheran chaplain with whom you were in telephone communication encouraged you to involve yourself as a military chaplain. What process did you have to go through?

Campbell: The process of becoming a Navy chaplain, the process I had to-- well I had my college degree, I had my Master of Divinity, my seminary degree, and I made application with my denomination. I had to meet their requirements, satisfy their denominational requirements. I had to satisfy some questions from the military, had to be interviewed on several occasions by military chaplains and military line officers in order to see if I would be compatible to military service. So I went through the process and God opened the door, and here I am.

Zarbock: You were talking about role conflict when you finally became-- what were you commissioned as, an Ensign or Lieutenant?

Campbell: I was commissioned as a JG, Lieutenant Junior-Grade; I came on Active Duty as a Lieutenant Junior-Grade, an O2; went up to a 1st Lieutenant.

Zarbock: And would you recall for me that those emotions that were awash in you when you were sworn in?

Campbell: Having come from the enlisted side of the house, yes. I joined the Marine Corps as an enlisted man; I got out of the Marine Corps as a sergeant. I traveled all those ranks between E1 to E5. And I enjoyed being a Marine, I enjoyed being an enlisted Marine and I had a very big distain for Marine officers. I had no use for officers. Matter of fact, one of my jokes that I used to use when I was enlisted and I would go to the exchange-- I probably shouldn't say this one. But I remember one time the clerk in front of me, because she said, "Thank you sir," as she handed me back my package. And I said, "You don't have to call me sir. My parents are married." And she stopped and she thought for a minute and she said, "Are you saying that officers are illegitimate?" I said, "You said it," and then I walked away. So anyhow I had no use for officers, and when I joined the Navy and I was being sworn in, and I looked around at all these officers that were in that room, I was a nervous wreck. Here are all these officers-- but then something--.

Zarbock: And they were not all chaplains of course.

Campbell: No, they were line officers, they were surface warfare officers. There was no chaplains there, no chaplain at all for comfort during that difficult time. But they were surface warfare officers, and I looked around and I thought, ah, I don't like officers. And all of a sudden it was like the voice of the Lord that said, "Ah, you are one now." So I became a Navy officer.

Zarbock: That was almost Saul becoming Paul.

Campbell: Yes, very much so. And even to this day my enlisted Marine Corps experience, albeit I joined 27 years ago, I still have trouble with senior officers. Not that I have trouble with them as in the sense oh I don't-- I get very nervous. I still see authority. I still see those who command respect, and I am not at ease with those who are senior to me. So that experience shaped and influenced my military life, that Marine experience.

Zarbock: Well after you were sworn in what was your duty assignment?

Campbell: My first duty assignment I went to Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, and I served with the Air Wing there, and I thought wow this is really good because as an enlisted Marine I was a field radio operator assigned to the infantry, and now finally I get to go with the Air Wing. Everybody knows the Air Wing was the easy way to go, so I went with the Air Wing. And I really enjoyed it. It was a dynamic ministry. It was a new opportunity to see and to explore things. Deployed to Aviano, Italy with the Air Wing and stayed there for six months. Had the opportunity to bring my wife and at the time my oldest son over there, and we were given a great opportunity to tour Italy, Austria, Germany, France, and it was quite the experience.

Zarbock: How old was you son?

Campbell: My oldest son at the time was about a year and a half I believe it was. Yes, he was about a year and a half.

Zarbock: So memories probably are not--.

Campbell: He doesn't have any memories of that but--.

Zarbock: But you and your wife certainly do.

Campbell: Oh we certainly do. And we occasionally say, "Now when you were in Germany this happened," or "When you were in Italy this happened." And he'll roll his eyes and say, "I don't remember that." So, and my youngest son, "Well where was I, where was I?" "You weren't born yet." "Oh." So we did that tour and then I had the opportunity to go to a ship, the USS Anne, the OCG6-G8 out of Norfolk, Virginia.

Zarbock: Now this is a young man from Indiana. Not many oceans around there.

Campbell: No, not many oceans in Indiana.

Zarbock: And who was a grunt carrying a radio. And then a nifty land base in Italy, and there you are on this floating chunk of steel.

Campbell: Yes.

Zarbock: What was that like?

Campbell: Ministry in the Navy is exciting and it's dynamic. You have a floating congregation. You're there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for six-month periods of time, with the same individuals.

Zarbock: What was the ship's complement, the number of-- roughly?

Campbell: Off the top of my head as I recall there was roughly- the war room consisted of probably 30 officers, maybe 250, 300 men.

Zarbock: Were you, and you were the sole chaplain.

Campbell: I was the sole chaplain, I was the only chaplain.

Zarbock: I didn't mean to be funny with words, by the way. I suddenly realized that...

Campbell: Yes! Sole chaplain!

Zarbock: ...that was the worst pun that I'm going to do-- I hope it's the worst one. I didn't mean a discipline by the way.

Campbell: Well that's good. Yes I was the chaplain. I was the chaplain and I was the Executor of the Commanding Officer's Command and Religious Program. I had a phenomenal Commanding Officer who still to this day, even after-- how many years has it been since I've been on that ship? I left that ship in '99/2000. We are still in active communications and he still serves as a mentor to me, even though he's retired-- Captain William F. Barnes, a great Commanding Officer, and really helped me, gave me the freedom to make mistakes, to speak with him and to learn from him what's your advice, what's your recommendation? And as a young chaplain I'd come up with all kinds of crazy ideas I'm sure, and I would say these things, and he'd say, "Okay," and then he'd say, "No, we're going to do it this way. Here's why." And man I tell you what, what an opportunity to learn. And so he was a great teacher, a great leader. So I enjoyed my two years onboard ship, and it was very profitable ministerally and spiritually.

Zarbock: Where did you cruise?

Campbell: We deployed the Mediterranean. So I was able to deploy-- we went all over the place, from Slovenia, Italy of course, Cyprus, Greece, oh my goodness, England. We had lots of places we went to. And the Navy then said, "Okay, we're going to send you to Japan." So I was sent for three years to Japan, and my family went to Japan. We got to experience mainland Japan for three years.

Zarbock: What were your duties there?

Campbell: I was a Family Housing Area chaplain. So my experiences in the Navy had thus far went to serving Air Wing marines, ones who were mechanics and working on airplanes, deploying with them, to serving sailors with various jobs, to going and working in a Family Housing Area chaplain, dealing with families, dealing with those whose spouses were deployed onboard amphibious ships that were located out of Japan who went down to various places, through the Pacific, helping them through the very emotional cycles of deployment and dealing with the aspects of military life.

Zarbock: What were some of the family problems-- characteristic?

Campbell: Oh in Japan family problems dealt mainly with the fact that they were in a foreign country, everything was new. They had their spouses gone, their spouses were deployed. Where were they going to get the help they needed? How were they going to handle the family issues that came up? So my ministry became chapel setting, services, counseling to families, helping them find the resources necessary. So that was a different version of the ministry.

Zarbock: That could be-- I was thinking of a stereotypic case where a mother of let's say two small children in a foreign country, husband deployed out of the country, and there you are. How do I get up every morning and get the kids orange juice and some Wheaties or whatever? And then what do I do with the rest of the day?

Campbell: What do I do with the rest of the day? Learn to volunteer, learn to assist the schools. The language obstacles to overcome; even simple things like going to the store becomes a chore when you're in a foreign land. It's not easy, it's really not easy. It's not easy being single, without your spouse, and raising children, but to be then taken away from your place of familiarity, from your home, transplanted into a foreign location.

Zarbock: How often did you see people try to cope with these difficulties by self-medicating themselves with drugs or alcohol?

Campbell: Well there's always, I find, when people go through transitions, adjustment issues, it seems like they want to turn to alcohol or to drugs or to sex or to food-- something to offer them comfort, something to offer them something they think they need.

Zarbock: Irrespective of how destructive that may be in the long run.

Campbell: Exactly. It's like a vicious cycle, it's a vicious cycle. A lady told me in counseling time, she said, "I'm depressed." And I said, "Why are you depressed?" And she said, "Because I'm in debt." I said, "Okay, well why are you in debt?" "Well because I'm depressed." And I said, "Well you're going to have to explain this one." And she said, "Well when I get depressed I go and I do the thing that I enjoy doing the most and that is shopping, and when I go shopping I can't just go shopping and not buy something, so I buy something because it helps me feel good, and when I buy something it's with money I don't have. So I'm in debt. And then I go back home and I see that I'm in debt, so I get depressed. So I go shopping." And it becomes a vicious cycle, and oftentimes these young families get themselves in these cycles and they have to learn to break out of them. And the role of a chaplain sometimes becomes thus sayest the Lord.

Zarbock: Chaplain I'm going to ask you-- just a little role-playing here. You're behind your desk and you see-- I'll make up a number-- six people that come in to see you throughout the day, and each one of them has got a big sack full of problems, and they dump it on your desk. And that's sack number 1, followed by sack number 2, followed by sack number 3, 4, 5 and 6. Well chaplain then go home and have dinner tonight. Now who takes care of the chaplain?

Campbell: You sound like you're describing Camp Johnson where I'm at now. Six marines in a day is not uncommon, six counseling cases.

Zarbock: And these are significant human problems.

Campbell: Yes they are. Right now where I'm at, at Camp Johnson, it's an academic environment. Marines have went to boot camp, they've went to their Marine Corps training at Camp Geiger or up at San Diego at Pendleton, and they come here for their schooling, and this is the first time that they've really had a moment to go, "Oh, okay; ah, I can't go back home. I want to go back home." And they don't know where they're going because they haven't been assigned orders yet. So they're caught in this world of transition where they've left home, they've left their family, they've left their identity, they've gone to boot camp, they've gone to MCT, they've come to Camp Johnson, and they're going, "Stop the world, I want to get off." And it becomes, "Please I want to go home." Helping them understand transition, moving from one phase of life to another, learning adjustment, learning to handle the stress, learning to accept the various facets of growing up. I say, "You'll experience this again later on and it's called midlife crisis, okay?" But they are going through a crisis and they come to the chaplain and they say, "I don't know why I'm feeling this way." "Well here's why you're feeling this way. Think about what you've left. You don't know where you're going. So it's no wonder that you feel this way." So anyhow I hear that day in and day out and I've learned a lot from it. And I do have to be careful that I don't become burned out and I become unsympathetic and uncaring. But I have learned as a chaplain that one of the best things that I can do is to listen and to guide, but not to take on their problem. Because so often I've seen a chaplain-- and I was guilty of this too. Oh my goodness, this person is telling me this problem, I've got to help them solve this problem. And I have found-- I alluded to this early on-- that I think the important thing is listening and just being quiet and letting them talk till they talk themselves out. And then they look at you and they say, "I don't know what else to say." And then you can kind of explain some of what's going through, help them understand. And in most cases I've found they're able to go, "Ah-ha, okay. It doesn't make it easier but at least now I know." And they go from there feeling good, and I go home. My wife always says she knows when I've had a lot of counseling because I don't say much. And I'll usually talk to her but I never talk to her so much about the problems. I may allude to certain things. But I find ways of dealing with it. My children are a great joy, my boys are a great joy.

Zarbock: How old are they?

Campbell: 11 and 8, and we play and I listen to their music. They both have a piano and they play and it becomes therapeutic for me. Reading, I enjoy reading. So my music-- all these things become good outlets so that I am able-- because I believe that if I am not filled up-- well let me say this, I believe that we can only help out of that which we're filled up. So many are coming in, they're empty, and they're seeking for something to fill them up. And we can only give to them out of our own overflow. If I myself am not being filled up, overflowing to them, I don't think that I can adequately help them. And I have seen, unfortunately, a lot of chaplains who are trying to take from the individual, that they're wanting in a sense the counselee to counsel them, and that is a big problem, and I have encountered that before or I've seen that before. Because I myself have went to chaplains and said, "You know, I feel like I'm getting burnt out." Or I'm dealing with this transitional issue myself, and they almost turn it around so it's you sort of counseling them. So I have to be filled up. I have to be in a situation where I am overflowing and I am able to share and listen so that they're filled up.

Zarbock: I once read that a therapist must be empathetic but never sympathetic. If you're sympathetic you start taking the patient or the client's woes and internalizing them, even identifying with the problems, and saying the effect of, "Well you think you've got it bad, I had the same but mine was worse."

Campbell: Yes.

Zarbock: A devastating thing for both ends, both sides of the conference table.

Campbell: I think there has to be compassion too, but compassion is a heartfelt desire to alleviate the burdens of another, and maintaining a balance in that. I have a heartfelt desire to help alleviate the burdens of another but I have to know my limits and I have to be able only to do that within the confines of myself having been filled up. And so ministry in the military is a challenge, it is a very big challenge. But I'll tell you what. My wife and I were talking the other day and after almost 22 years of marriage I had joked with her about taking her away from her home in Indiana, and I said, "Look at all the places-- now if you had been back there look at all the places you'd have missed," talking about touring Europe and touring Asia and places that she's got to go, taking her away from her hometown. Because we're talking about retiring soon. I will have 20 years of Active Duty here within the next couple of years, next two years. And of course as you know I joined in '80. So that will bring me close to almost 30 years at the time I retire, from the time I first went into the military, all those years of Active Duty, getting out, going to the seminary, preparing to come back into the military and having served in the military. That's 30 years of my life that I have devoted to the military or in preparation of the military, and in those 30 years I have got to go places and do things that few people would've ever thought to have--. So what started out as a challenge for me to become like my father, who was a Marine, has really grown as the Lord has moved and blessed.

Zarbock: Is your father still alive?

Campbell: Yes my father is still alive. My father is at this time 75, will be 76 here soon. He, like I said, was actually in the Chosin Reservoir conflict as a Marine artillery man, and he still to this day doesn't talk about it. I can't get much from him. I've never pushed hard. My sons occasionally will ask him things and he won't say too much. So.

Zarbock: What does he think about you and your role of a Navy chaplain, and an officer to boot?

Campbell: Oh well my father has really-- my mom tells me that he is-- I'm the oldest of five-- that he is extremely, extremely proud. And I guess he has a great-- what would be the right word?-- well a great-- identify, he can identify with it, and it's something that he was familiar with. Now my-- not to take away from the others. See my sister's a dietician, I have another brother who's a chemical engineer or an aeronautical engineer; his wife's a chemical engineer. Another brother who's a superintendent of schools. So there's a lot of diversity in our family-- and another brother that works construction. But he can be proud of them but he's never had any identity with any of those, whereas with the military he has. So there's a great kinship there, a great sense of pride, having been a Marine and now a navy chaplain serving the Marines.

Zarbock: One of the questions, one of the discussion points off camera was I sort of was going to ask you a couple of questions specifically; to recall please sort of a bookend experience, the best of days-- if you remember your Dickens-- and the worst of days. So the best of days as you would recount them, as an incident or a situation or a location, a moment in time in your life, or/and the best, and furthermore a trilogy-- I'm giving sort of a triune map-- something in the middle, a moment of flippancy or irreverency or humor or absurdity. So let's, before I change the tape here, which would you prefer to go, the happy moment or the unhappy moment?

Campbell: I would say the unhappiest time as a Navy chaplain is leaving the family behind. That is the most difficult thing I've ever experienced is going to take care of others, seeing your family left behind, knowing that they need you too, that they need you just as bad and in some ways worse, but you have to leave them behind. You have to leave your family behind crying, to go minister, because you have a higher calling. And that's difficult, it's difficult. Navy chaplains have the luxury of being one of the-- maybe I'll take this out of context, but it's a very hard situation some days not to say, "You know, I'm done with this." Call your endorsing agent and say, "Please pull my endorsement, I'm through, I'm done." And the denomination says, "Okay, we pull your endorsement," and then you're processed out of the military. It's easy to do, and it's a challenge not to do it, to be faithful to what you believe your calling is but yet struggle with the gut-wrenching pain. You know, I'm an emotional person and, you know, we're family-oriented, and my family and I are close, we do everything together. We don't have days out away from each other in a sense; we really are close. And that's difficult. My wife and I home school so we are very active in our boys' life-- to leave them behind, that's the hardest thing. That to me was the most difficult experience, and it's happened on several occasions. So that is difficult.

Zarbock: Let me, in this context, peek behind the curtain of your privacy. And as much as you feel comfortable on this. What is the process? You're at Camp A and suddenly you get orders, you're going to go overseas and you're going to deploy without your family. Now first of all the method of that-- how do you get the information that you're going to deploy and what the destination will be? Telephone or do you get a written order or an email?

Campbell: If you're assigned to a unit and the unit goes, then you go with the unit. Sometimes I knew-- for example, let me pull from experience-- my deployment to Italy, I knew about a month and a half, two months, before I was to deploy, that I was going to deploy, with the unit. And you begin that emotional cycle of deployment. You wrestle with everything from excitement to dread, and the closer it gets the more you find you and your spouse are pulling apart in anticipation. There's tension, there's frustration. You know it's coming, and you start emotionally saying, "Okay, let's just get going and get it over with." You become more argumentative and you don't know why. It's part of the emotional cycle of deployment. You know it's coming and you're trying to pull away and you're trying to distance yourself. So that could come a few months earlier or it could come-- some people are with units that they deploy on a regular basis and they know a year, a year and a half out that they're going to deploy. So when I went to a ship I knew a year out when our deployment time was.

Zarbock: And as that grows closer and closer?

Campbell: It becomes more and more tense. Military families find themselves trying to do different things to adjust with it. Some turn to alcohol, drugs or various other things. Some become more vocal and fighting. There's all different kinds of things. Some people become much more sorrowful. Some families separate early and they just go back home so they can be away. And others come, they spend time on the pier and it's long and it's drawn out and it's emotional, and it becomes prying them apart. So every family relates in a different way. And that is, for me, the toughest thing that I've dealt with, the most painful. (tape change)

Zarbock: This is tape number two. Lieutenant Commander Campbell. We're at Camp Lejeune. It's the fourth of May in the year 2007. Take it away, Chaplain. The question was having gone through sadness on tape number one, give me something gleeful in an experience that you've had.

Campbell: Well, there's lots of joys, there's lots of happiness. The fact of getting to be a Navy chaplain, this is the highlight of my life. I really doubt there could be a few other things that I can look back on and say, you know, I think this is tops. This is -- I'm sure the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise that I'll get to do other things in life, retire from the military and carry on with some other things. But being a Navy chaplain for as many years as I've got to be and being in the military is going to be the joy or the highlight of my experiences. Getting promoted, being -- knowing that I made a big hurdle in getting a promotion to Lieutenant Commander was a joy. We have had just all the way around the great joy of being in the military. You know if we were looking at funny experiences, I would even go back to the chaplain who helped me get back on active duty and kind of helped me develop my call. He was a new chaplain on active duty when he came to the office and I was his clerk. And, of course, I was a corporal and a little more mischievous and knew how, you know, to get young chaplains. And we went out for our very first field experience. And as a corporal my responsibility was not only administrative for him, but to be his bodyguard. And we had a combat scenario where as we were marching down the road the enemy came and the sergeant major started screaming, "Everybody down, hit the deck, cover," everything else. And everybody goes except him and he's standing in the middle of the road, "What am I supposed to do now?" And the Sergeant Major started screaming at him profanity, "Get down." I said, "Over here, sir, over here." And I started waving at him for him to come and he comes running over there and jumps. He says, what do we do now, and I said, "Well, sir, I said, you just lay out right here just like you are." And so he lays down and I take my rifle, and I put my rifle on my shoulder and put my arms on his back and I put my rifle up there like that. And I said, "When the enemy comes, we're ready." So, he's laying in front of me with my arms on him. And he's laying there and after a minute he looks back up and he says, "You know, I really don't think it's supposed to be this way." And so the opportunity to have fun and have experiences like that will always, always stay with me. That that episode happens 24-years ago or more, still sticks with me to this day that he just did not think that he was supposed to be in front of me laying down with me using him as the barrier for protection. I would say that has to be one of the funniest events that I have ever had in my military service. It just absolutely is tops.

Zarbock: What about something of an absurd nature?

Campbell: Absurd?

Zarbock: Where you look and say, this is about as foolish a situation as you can get into.

Campbell: I can think of some foolish events that I have done.

Zarbock: That'll qualify.

Campbell: I think on board the ship probably to me one of the most embarrassing situations was that I feel like at the time that I let my Commanding Officer down because of my advice or recommendation. I can look back on it now and see as I went back earlier when I mentioned being on the ship, the opportunity was given to me to grow and to learn. We had an incident on board the ship where we had hazing going on. And the commanding officer, it was brought to his attention by some through me, and there was a first-class on board the ship, an E6, who is doing it.

Zarbock: Did you say first-class?

Campbell: First-class, it's E6, petty officer...

Zarbock: Petty officer.

Campbell: ...first-class was doing the hazing and taping guys up and just those kind of situations. And I went to the Commanding Officer and I talked to him about it and the investigation began and the situation happened. And I had saw personally first hand how these sailors' lives were effected. And this is one of those instances where I took on their pain. I took on their grief so much so that I wanted vengeance for them. I wanted them exonerated. I wanted this guy to pay. And so the Commanding Officer said, you know, "What do you see, tell me what do you think?" And he said, "Should we keep him," referring to the first-class, "or should we send him away." And I said, "Sir," I said, "I think you need to crush him to the full extent of your power and send him off this ship. And he needs to go away." And I ran right into that one just passionate. And the Commanding Officer, who is my mentor, said, "Okay. Chaplain, I'm going to keep him on the ship." And I remember I turned so red and my face was flushed, whether it was from embarrassment or anger at that moment, I don't know. "How dare you bring me in here, how dare you ask my opinion, and then how dare you not honor, you know, my opinion." He said, "I'm going to keep him and I'm going to make him this, and I'm going to make him work on board this ship, and I'm going to make him pay for his mistakes that way." It's not going to be easy, because he's going to have to look in the faces of those that he humiliated." I was humbled. I was humiliated for my counsel that was given in my-- as I look back on it now, in haste. Because I wanted to retaliate against somebody who had hurt these young crewmen. And so for me the lowest point was my lack of credibility and my embarrassing myself by not thinking through. And I was young, younger, and I was only on my second tour in learning. But that Commanding Officer put so much stock in me I thought I had to come up with something good. And then to do it in the manner which I did was probably the most humiliating for me so. But, I had that freedom, I had that opportunity to learn, I had the opportunity given to me. And he actively solicited my input even after that and my advice in my situation, and that was a growing experience albeit an embarrassing experience. So, as a chaplain I've indicated the low point being deploying and watching your family grieve, and grieving yourself the same as the others, but having to put it aside in minister. The fun experiences, the high points of family and promotions and, you know, opportunities given, seeing the world, embarrassing situations, I've had them all, but...

Zarbock: Chaplain, one of the questions I've asked all of the other interviewees, it goes like this. Anytime during your military career as a chaplain, were you ever ordered, suggested, hinted at, or in the most oblique and subtle way were you ever asked during your career as a chaplain to do something that would be in violence to your ethic and morality?

Campbell: Absolutely not.

Zarbock: At no time?

Campbell: At no time. I have had phenomenal Commanding Officers and phenomenal experiences where my professionalism has been respected. The right to confidentiality has never been violated at any time. Every single Commanding Officer and Executive officer has said, "I respect that." And I have never, ever had an episode or an experience-- my ministry has been phenomenal. I have learned over the years how to take what has been given and not break confidentiality in assist to command, and I think that comes with professionalism. I think I could put myself on the spot by being-- I can't say nothing, but learning to say, "I can't tell you what we talked about and I can't break confidences and break who are the subjects. but here's how we can help this individual." And I have never ever had a situation that has caused me-- and I am, for the record, have very conservative theological chaplain and I am very, very socially conservative. I have a son I've indicated we home school and I would be the first to raise a red flag if I felt like my professionalism or my call to ministry was ever being jeopardized. Never have I had an experience like that. I would say the only downside that I have noticed to being a military chaplain is not ministering to the lying community, but it is chaplains backbiting and fighting with other chaplains. That has been the low point and it seems like in the last few years that's intensified. And that's been a low point and that has been probably the most difficult professional experience that I've had. But it's never called into question my integrity or any of those issues, so I've never been forced to compromise who I am. It's a disappointment.

Zarbock: This increase, is the product of what? What would you hypothesize? What's --?

Campbell: I think that perhaps maybe professional requirements, competition against one another, maybe.

Zarbock: For military advance?

Campbell: For military advancement positions, maybe perhaps. I think there's a lot more tension in the military now than there was 20, 25, 28 years ago when I joined the military. I see a lot more chaplains having much more demanding schedules now than they did. When I began working for chaplains I remember two or three times a week chaplains would get together and they'd go play golf, or they'd go do these kind of things, so there's a comradely. Now, chaplains, "I'm sorry, I can't get together because I've got this, this, this, this, this, and this to do by this time. And if I don't get it through, that's it because I won't get promoted." So, and I think there's a lot of stress with that and there is a lot of backbiting and fighting. I don't see that here. I'm saying I have seen that since I deal in active duty more. Now, has it always been or is this something-- I don't know because I was not a chaplain then, I'm a chaplain now. This may be something that I'm seeing because I'm a part of that group now so.

Zarbock: I've been contributing to steering you hither and yon in the conversation. I've got two more moments of steering you, but it's free time for you. Before we get into my last two steerings, anything you would like to say for the purpose of this interview? It's free time! Anything you'd like to say.

Campbell: I don't think I could ever been as satisfied in ministry being in a local congregation. That's why I'm satisfied being in the military for all of its hardships, all of its pains. There is really no better ministry than ministering to Navy, and Marine personnel and their families. I would call people highly considerate. You know, I've heard several, "Oh you throw away your life by joining the military." I don't think so. I don't mean this rude, but I'll tell you what, I've been out of high school since 1980. I went back for a 25th reunion a few years ago and most of those folks had never been away from home, never been away from the community, and you say I've thrown away my life. I've been almost completely around the world in places you've never heard of, places you've never seen. My family has gone-- my sons have done more in their 8 and 11 years than I did in the first 18 years of my life. My sons have done more in 11 years and 8 years than my high school friends have done in their whole life. And the military has afforded me that opportunity and I'll always be grateful to that and for that. And I'll always be grateful for my family, and for my wife who's been there through the thick and thin of it too. I think today there's so much yammering, and yapping and carrying on about individuals and she has so steadfastly devoted herself to my ministry and to our family. There's a lot of thanks that I need to say to that and for that. So, she's having a ministry of putting my ministry and me and my family up front so that I could go and do these things that my country has called me to do. And I could go do them in my pain knowing that she was back there staying and keeping things going that I could minister without fear. So, I guess personally that's...

Zarbock: Well said. Well then, we're down to two requests on my part. Request number one, and, again, I queued you to this request off camera. Summarizing all of your life experiences, your youth, adolescence, the time as an enlisted man in the Marines, educational experiences, marriage, family, the joys and pains of that, your military career, you're older now than you were when you were a freshman in high school. How would you summarize Chaplain Campbell's credo, what is life to you?

Campbell: My life has been characterized by a strong family upbringing. Very much devoted to the military. I knew in the ninth grade I was going to join the Marine Corps. I would say in a world where the only commitment is to make no commitment at all, my life is characterized by commitment. I think I could illustrate the fact that I have stayed the course, I have worked diligently for things that people said I couldn't do. And when I got out of high school I swore I'd never go to school again, and I hated school. I despised school. And my mother even said, you know, you'll never go to college, you know. Well, she didn't mean that wrong, but she just knew that I despised school and I wasn't going to go, but I did. I went to college, finished, went to seminary, finished, but my life has been characterized by commitment, the higher calling not only to God, but to that which I have set my hand to do I will do. But I go back to-- my wife joked recently I even out of the blue decided to take with the community college here, and get a certification in construction just because I wanted the challenge. And so I've taken six courses in construction, in homebuilding and I am in the process of planning to move and to go to my next duty station and I have one more course to get that certification. And I said I am so tempted not to do it. I don't have the time, I'm down to the end. What is it going to matter? I've got all the other things and we were sitting on the porch and my wife said something to me and I said, "You know, I have to do it." She says, "I know you have to do it and that's why I didn't say anything, because I knew that you would never be happy knowing that you didn't finish that what you committed to do." And so I guess my credo is commitment. And I may be doing something at times I don't like to do, but if I'm committed to do it, I'll do it. And I think my family taught me that, my father taught me that by virtue of the fact that any man who can go to the Chosin Reservoir and fight and survive 30 degree below 0 temperatures that were there, you know, if he can do it, I can do it, so.

Zarbock: Thank you. My last request and, again, I mentioned this to you off camera. Would you look right into the lens? Your sons are 8 did you say and 11?

Campbell: Eight and 11. Matthew and Michael. Matthew is 11 and Michael is 8.

Zarbock: Well, one of these days you may end up as a grandfather, so with that in mind I'm going to ask you to talk into the lens of the camera and leave a message for your grandchildren.

Campbell: Leave a message. I would say there is no greater thing that you can do, than to serve the Lord. Serve the Lord with gladness, serve the Lord with thanksgiving. Be willing to go whenever and however he says go, and stay committed and stay focused to that task. And impact to the very best of your ability with your talents, your gifts, someone else's life. Because then as I said earlier, then you'll know that your living is not in vain. And those things will live after you. Long after your calling. So, serve the Lord.

Zarbock: Thank you, Chaplain. It's a privilege to have met you.

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