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Title:
Interview with Larry Holland (Part 2), December 10, 2003
Date:
December 10, 2003
Description:
Two Part interview with retired Colonel and Chaplain Larry Holland.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Holland, Larry (Part 2) Interviewer:  Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview:  12/10/2003 Series:  Military Length  31 minutes

 

Zarbock: This is tape number two, Fort Jackson, 10 December 2003. Major Larry Holland, here we go again. One of the questions I’d like to start off with, ask you to retreat back into your early military experience, how and what is that badge over your left breast pocket?

Holland: That’s the Air Assault badge as opposed to the Airborne Jump badge. The 101st was one of the two original Airborne units in World War II, the 82nd of course being the other, the All American and then the 101st Screaming Eagles. Actually our 187th Combat Regiment team, they were the glider folks into Normandy. Actually had a patch on our garrison that was a picture of a glider. So that was their history. Then it was into the Vietnam era that became the Air Mobile, Air Assault helicopter units.

They basically just moved everything by helicopter, all personnel and supplies. They can literally move entire divisions from any one spot and lift it to another faster and easier than anybody in the Army.

Zarbock: Well what was your training like? I assume it was different from seminary.

Holland: Oh yes, quite a bit. Never prepared me for what I was about to go through. It was mandatory especially for everybody in the infantry, you go to Air Assault school. It’s about like going to Fort Bragg and you’re going to go to Airborne School. So I had made plans as soon as I could. They have an obstacle course that’s called the air assault Obstacle Course and that’s the first thing you have to do on day zero they call it, you have to negotiate this obstacle course.

Well David Corem and Jim Duke especially really helped me out on the obstacle course to get ready.

Zarbock: Now 50 years from now this is going to be absolutely mysterious. This is going to be language probably not understood so take your time. What is an obstacle course?

Holland: Well all types of obstacles that you have to negotiate, climb, crawl under, swing through, it just simulates what you might have to go through in a battle.

Zarbock: Is it timed?

Holland: It is timed. You have so long and so many opportunities to negotiate one obstacle. I’ll go back even further to our training at basic at Fort Monmouth. We used to always go up to Fort Dix. We negotiated not only the obstacle courses, but they…what they call a confidence course actually because you do more teamwork in trying to negotiate obstacles and it really is a confidence builder. If you can see some of the heights of some of the obstacles that you have…like a platform obstacle that you have to get your four member team up on each platform, all the way up. It’s scary and there are some very high obstacles that you have to climb and swing down. So that’s the confidence course.

We also went through the infiltration course. That was very interesting. Live fire and we go through a maneuver. They bus us out in what they called cattle cars then. They weren’t buses. They were just semi-trailers that look like cattle cars on the back of them. They’d pile us in there and several miles out we had to negotiate back into the objective which is the infiltration course. When you hit that course, you have to low crawl, belly crawl under wire and past grenade simulators and they’re firing 50 caliber guns right over your head with live fire. You could see the tracers. So that was a real experience.

Air Assault school did not get to go before Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Didn't have time. Got back and knew, I weighed every bit of probably 150 pounds at that time. I looked after a prisoner of war after being in Iraq for almost eight months. So I thought well I’m at the lowest weight, you know, now is the time to go through air assault school.

Well the Commandant of the Air Assault school was a Rakkasan, a former captain in my unit. I had been told that he always liked to have a Rakkasan as his number one class, roster one, as the class leader.

Zarbock: That was one of the paratroopers?

Holland: Yes, he had just moved over from _____ unit. They’re going to train you through everything that’s rigorous in the obstacle course and how to negotiate the towers so you can actually repel out of a helicopter. So I was just looking forward to the whole thing but I did not plan on being the class leader. I’m sitting there in a class of 150-200 and there are a lot of other captains in that class. They’re line officers and some of them I know outranked me so I thought nothing to worry about.

Sure enough first name they call, Roster One, Larry Holland, Holland Larry L. I almost did not stand up in time. The black shirt, what we call the black shirt sergeants, he was all over me you know and stayed all over me for the next 10 days. They claim it’s the 10 hardest days in the Army. Have you ever heard that sir?

BRINSFIELD: No, but I agree.

Holland: I had a lot of troops there from Fort Bragg that were airborne troops and they told me Air Assault School was much, much harder than Airborne School. One of the reasons is, one of the first things that you do in phase one is you go through and learn all about the helicopters, you learn all about the different sling loads that you would sling, ammunition, fuel, vehicles, vehicles of every shape and size and a total different configuration for each one.

Every soldier has to know that stuff. How many chain links to count down on a regular Humvee and hook that so it balances and they can lift it. A lot of head and fact stuff to remember. I think that’s why the soldiers have such difficult. I didn't find the ____ and this class leader got to it and was able to even go back and help _____ didn't make it. Only then do you move into the phase 2 where you negotiate the tower and learn how to repel.

So it was an interesting time. On the morning of the obstacle course, they really put us through the grill and at this point as soon as you finish the obstacle course, you’re in uniform and boots, then you go on a four mile run in boots. So I made it through that and was class leader and just had a wonderful time.

Zarbock: Sounds great.

Holland: It’s amazing to think about jumping out of a helicopter at about 90 to 100 feet in the air and going down that row. My first sergeant and myself as class leader, we were the first ones out of the helicopter. I’ve got a picture in my office, one of the Black Shirts had a camera in the helicopter and he took a picture of it before I repelled. What they do is they get you in what they call the L position. You actually hook up to your repel rope and you get out on the edge of that helicopter and your feet are right there at the door and you do a lean back and you’re in an L shaped lean ready to jump off of that helicopter and swing under it and repel.

So he hooked me up. Actually you’re doing this, you’re holding the rope into your back because that’s where you control your descent. I’m doing this and I’m hanging out of the helicopter and then he goes to the other side to hook up the first sergeant. I did not realize and the 30-40 foot tower we went off could not prepare you for how heavy 100+ feet of rope is.

He left me there and he left me there and I’m about to lose it. I’m trying to hold this rope and they build you up every time you go in and out of there, at the assault school you have to do a five and dime. You have to drop and do 10 pushups and 5 pullups because they really want to build your upper body strength. So I was having a difficult time holding my position and then he turns around and he decides he wants to take a picture of me. In this picture, I’ve got this look on my face, you know, like let me go.

You did not go until that Black Shirt told you to go. When I did finally, you’re supposed to lock and do about three descents. I think I did one descent and tried to lock and decided I’m going on down. I just hit the ground. It was amazing. That’s the only time I’ve ever jumped out of a helicopter. All the other times they landed and let us step out of the helicopter.

BRINSFIELD: You’re talking about holding the rope. You mean you were holding the rope behind you in one hand?

Holland: Yes. The way the repel rope works, as you let go it releases the tension and you slide down the rope. As you bring it in, it locks and you can just hang there as long as you can hold it.

Zarbock: Again for the purpose of future curiosity why would a chaplain be required to have this type of training?

Holland: Well again it’s a matter of going with your troops. Just like the airborne chaplain, if he’s going to go with his troops, he’s going to have to learn how to parachute and jump. We knew that even having lessons learned after I got back from Iraq, we didn't repel into Iraq. We air assaulted and landed, but they still want you to be able to do that. Again that origin goes back to the jungles in Vietnam where they would actually insert people by repel.

The other interesting thing about air assault school, you don’t graduate until you complete a 12 mile road march under three hours. Well you got a 35 pound rucksack inventoried list of things you’re supposed to have in it and it weighs every bit of 35 pounds. That night before our final 12 mile road march it started to rain. I woke up about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. It’s pouring rain out there and it I thought oh Lord, please no.

It continued to rain all through the morning and we had to do a full layout so they could inventory our rucksacks and know that we had everything we were supposed to have and we’re standing in pouring rain, soaked to the bone, everything in our packs soaked and then we reloaded it and it probably weighed 50 pounds at that point. I was concerned about blisters in the boots on a 12 mile road march. Somebody given me the bright idea of wearing nylon little pantyhose footing stocking to keep from getting blisters.

Well I tried that and about half way through that 12 miles, that nylon balled up underneath my foot and the pace man was right on my rear the whole time. There was no time to stop and take my boot off and fix that sock. So I ended up with a blister about like that on the bottom of my foot. Being the class leader and the only chaplain in the class at the graduate ceremony I was asked to do a prayer.

I’m in formation and then of course when they called me for the prayer, I had to hightail it all the way up to the podium and I’m limping like this the whole way. I made it, I wasn’t the last one. I think there were one or two behind me, but I made it with only a minute or two to spare. There were a couple of guys, that pace man was pushing them right at the three hour mark to make it. That was quite an ordeal. That was Air Assault school.

I wanted to go to Airborne School. The guys encouraged me and said, “Oh Chaplain, if you can do this, you can do airborne”. I actually put in for a position, a slot. By the time they got it for me and called me and said we’ve got a slot for you, you can go, they said call this number. The first number I called and the first thing they asked was was I on any orders. Well I had an RFO for Korea. They said they were sorry but they couldn’t send me then. So I never made it to Airborne School.

Zarbock: Is it possible in the future or is too late now?

Holland: It’s not impossible. If I were to say go and be the Division Chaplain of the 82nd which is what Sonny Moore did. Sonny Moore was another chaplain that served with Fort Campbell and Desert Storm. He went to Airborne School, I guess he was about 50 years old at the time.

Zarbock: John, I thought you had another question.

BRINSFIELD: Yes, would you describe for us the transition to the Chaplain School?

Holland: Gil Tingill was the installation chaplain at Fort Campbell. He and I worked very closely together. Chuck Adams had left so Gil was basically the pastor of the large main chapel there. He wanted some help preaching so I was on his preaching rotation schedule and preached in the main chapel at least once or twice a month. So again we got very close and worked together.

Through the years and especially in Germany Gil would come over for the mission, the Unit Ministry Team Leadership Training Conference once a year and he and I always talked about the fact that I wanted to come to the schoolhouse and teach. I had been through the advance course here while they were still building this new schoolhouse. Whiz Brune was my small group leader. Whiz at this time now is the personnel assignment guy at the Chief’s office.

Zarbock: His name is Whiz?

Holland: His name is Bill, William Bill Brune but they call him Whiz and everybody calls him Whiz and he wants everybody to call him Whiz. Full colonel. So being an assignments guy, he and I talked and he knew I wanted to come to the school. So it just worked out that the time was right. I was supposed to stay in Germany for another year. I had done a three year extension. But Gil Tingill was over at the Training Conference and he said, “Larry, I’m retiring next year. If I’m going to get you to the schoolhouse, I’ve got to bring you this next summer”.

So it worked out that I came here last summer 2002 and was really looking forward to it. I had really gotten my feet on the ground and gone through all the training that I had to go through to start instructing and was looking forward to the first classes to start. I’m sitting down in my cubicle one day and Chaplain Roller walked around the corner. The commandant doesn’t visit your cubicle every day so I though, oh shoot, what have I done now.

That’s when he told me, this was in February this year, he said “Larry, we’re going to need to send some of your guys to fill some slots and go with some units to Kuwait and go to war with Iraq. So that was totally unexpected. Having been there and done that once before and thinking that I was in a non-deployable slot basically, there is no such thing in the Army anymore it was quite a shock. Same for Chaplain Brown and Chaplain Sterling, three of us instructors here got called up to go.

BRINSFIELD: Can you describe your deployment to Iraq and what job you had there?

Holland: I went to Fort Stewart with the 3rd Infantry Division and I was assigned to the XXIV Corps Support Group, that’s the 18th Airborne’s Corps Support Group and I was with one of their battalions. All three of us that went from the schoolhouse here were majors, but all the empty slots were battalion captain slots because we’re so short of captains in the chaplaincy.

So I was basically going back to be a battalion chaplain again. That was difficult. Being a major as a battalion chaplain had its pros and cons. I was able probably to do more and get more done, but at the same time the unit is just used to treating their chaplain like a captain and a lot of times I got treated like a captain. So I’ve heard the same experience from the other guys that went.

Had a great commander, Andy Bowes and executive officer, Morris Hatcher, we called him Mo. Major Dobb was our S3, our support operations, just some great people to work with.

BRINSFIELD: Who was your supervisor chaplain?

Holland: Well the brigade level or group chaplain as they call him was with the XXIV Corps Support Group, I’m about to draw a blank on his name because I hardly ever saw him. We were never in the same place, but he was a fellow major and his name will come to me here in a minute. By in large I went unsupervised because I had no contact with Chaplain Heath as the division chaplain.

The Support Battalion as we geared up and moved into Iraq, we had a lot of Reserve units attached to us because basically what they do is they provide the bullets, all the food and water, so we had a Transportation Unit, Ammunition Unit, Quartermaster, you name it. At one point our strength was over 1200 in this one battalion. So I had my hands full with just ministry with that unit.

BRINSFIELD: Chaplain Heath was the Division Chaplain.

Holland: Yes, for the 3rd Infantry.

BRINSFIELD: What was your ministry like after you got there?

Holland: Well again it was good because we were sitting there in Kuwait just waiting to see what was going to happen. People again were contemplating going to war and facing the dangers there. We knew that we were not going to be very far behind the main effort. We had to get up there and provide them all the fuel and everything else they needed, ammunition especially. So we knew we were going to be in the thick of things. Had a lot of young people brand new to the Army right out of their initial training. They did not join the Army to go to war.

I had the same thing in Desert Storm. Young soldiers came to me saying “I joined the Army for the education benefits, I didn't join go to war.” All of a sudden they’re conscientious objectors and didn't want to go. I had a lot of young females especially in this support group and they were having a real difficult time. There was a lot of counseling, very heavy counseling load. We had some good services there at Camp New York in Kuwait waiting to go across the border.

BRINSFIELD: Were the troops asking questions about why they were there?

Holland: I don’t think so as much this time. They were convinced that Saddam had to be taken out and that we probably should have done it the first time. They were kind of excited to be a part of history and know they were going to go in and take him out this time. I know I was. Many times I kept thinking if we had done this right first time I wouldn’t be sitting here now.

Zarbock: Something I wondered watching the television, what did the troops do in the evening as they were waiting, waiting, waiting for recreation, entertainment and relaxation?

Holland: We had some cable hook-ups. Of course a lot of videos and books and had bible studies a lot of nights. They did a lot of reading, a lot of watching movies, at least while we were in Kuwait, less of that when we got into Iraq.

Zarbock: What about drinking and drugs?

Holland: No, first of all you’re in an Islamic country.

Zarbock: Don’t go down to the corner tavern.

Holland: Exactly. Now after we did get up to Baghdad we had some locals that were selling some liquor and we had a few soldiers that decided to partake and they suffered the consequences. But I think in preparation during the month or so we were in Kuwait, we didn't have any incidences of that at all.

Zarbock: The soldiers who were drinking, is that a court-martial offense?

Holland: Yes it is. Well depending on the commander, he can do it locally himself instead of bringing it up to the next higher level. I think that’s what they did with these guys.

BRINSFIELD: Non-judicial.

Holland: Right.

BRINSFIELD: Did you find any chaplains who were asking questions about why we were there?

Holland: Oh yes. As a matter of fact I’m sure you probably heard we had a couple of chaplains that just refused to go into Iraq. They were not going to be a part of the battle or the fight and they didn't want to deploy to begin with. They were very against the war. Some of these were Reserve chaplains. Had one Reserve chaplain that even after they got up to Baghdad, once they got some fights established, he just decided to get on a plane one day and go back to Kuwait.

BRINSFIELD: We know about Glenn Palmer because we was in the Chicago newspapers. We also know that he turned around and went back to his unit. But the other two chaplains who were unnamed, you had a couple of Reserve chaplains that would not go over, did they not go to Kuwait?

Holland: My understanding was that they were told they would go or they would be court-martialed. There was quite a stir about it and I heard about it. I wasn’t privy to it or it wasn’t in my area of operations or in my units, but I heard about it. I think they ended up going, but they were against it for theological and/or political reasons. Again they were in the Reserves probably to earn some extra money, you know a local pastor somewhere, and they didn't want to be there.

Zarbock: One of the questions I’ve asked other chaplains, were you ever ordered, were you ever directed, were you ever hinted at or were you ever slyly suggested that you do something that was in violation of your spiritual, religious and ethical code?

Holland: No. As a matter of fact, I had a very dedicated Christian commander and executive officer I worked very closely with. We really felt more like peers. I think I was older than my battalion commander. He would never ask me or order me to do anything that he knew a chaplain shouldn’t be doing. I wouldn’t allow myself to get in that position anyway.

Now we had another chaplain who was prior enlisted in Desert Storm. You might have heard about him. Told his assistant to get him an extra M-16 and he joined in the battle up in Baghdad one day with his troops and at the time before he died, David Bloom’s photographer got it on tape. I never did hear finally what happened to the guy.

Zarbock: Are you saying that the chaplain was armed and firing the weapon?

Holland: He was armed and firing at the Iraqis.

BRINSFIELD: His unit was ambushed and he had been a prior service soldier and was qualified with weapons. He said that he felt that the unit was going to be overrun so he picked up a weapon and fell into line and helped protect his unit. He made the Chief’s office very unhappy because of the Geneva Convention prohibition against chaplains bearing arms or at the loss of non-combatant immunity status. The last I heard was that he was not disciplined. In fact he was given a bronze star with _____.

Holland: Good for him.

BRINSFIELD: But the Chief’s office had some words for him.

Holland: But we were never really in that close of a contact with the enemy. To tell you what our adventure was, Thursday night, Thursday morning early, the hours about 4:00 a.m. is when they had the barrage of bombing on what they thought was Saddam’s hideout bunker. Then of course Friday the troops began, 3rd ID started moving across the berm. All night long we could hear them blowing the berm, large dirt mounds and they were blowing holes through them that had been put up years ago during after Desert Storm.

So the tanks reached the berm on Friday. We got into position and went up and we reached the berm on Saturday the 22nd of March. Five hundred vehicle convoy. It was like Mad Max trying to negotiate the roads that we did and other units trying to vie for position on those small roads. What we thought was going to take us a day and a half to get up to our objective took us five days nonstop. We would stop and sleep occasionally, but there were some people that went almost 96 hours without sleep.

Trying to negotiate those dirt, dusty, sandy roads and 18 wheelers with transportation units trying to get around you or tanks or Bradleys and stirring up that sand, it was total brown-out. Now helicopter pilots will tell you about brown-out from the desert because every time they land and take off, it is a total brown-out and they’re going by instrument. We’re driving and we can’t even see the end of our hood much less the vehicle in front of us. So there were several accidents, a lot of people bumping into each other.

One 18-wheeler that decided to pass somebody and didn't know there was a ravine up ahead and turned over and two soldiers I think were killed. That was not one of our units. So that was our most dangerous time I think during the entire Operation Iraqi Freedom was our movement across the border. We passed An-Nasiriyah and As-Samawa before all the activity started. The Marines were the ones that caught it so heavily after we…and we didn't go through downtown An-Nasiriyah like they did. They tried to take those two bridges and they caught hell.

We were close enough that we could see some of the fighting going on especially at night, we could see the tracers. But we were never under direct fire. We got to Objective Rams on the 26th I guess of March and that was where we were supposed to establish our forward logistic space and we did meet some resistance there. We were told that Objective Rams was clear. We got there, I was with the advance party and it was not clear. We had some sniping and drive-by motorcycles and little pickup trucks, people shooting at us.

We had several Bradleys that spent the night around us. That was a comforting thought. From Objective Rams we set up what they call the FLE, it’s the Forward Logistics Element, but then we moved over several kilometers and occupied an old deserted British petroleum plant. We were fortunate. Our group had gone and found this position, this location and we were fortunate to have some good buildings to set up in. That was called Dogwood.

We were at Dogwood then for the rest of our duration, about 30 kilometers probably south of the Baghdad airport. So all of the infantry and other forces were just up ahead of us. I had never been around logistics before. I had always been on the receiving end of logistics. It’s amazing what they do. Again over 1200 hundred personnel, all the trucks. Well first of all the first objective was to lay down a fuel farm. I didn't know what a fuel farm was. It’s 50,000 kilo blivets full of fuel and …

Zarbock: A blivet being…

Holland: A blivet being a big bladder. Before they would start the assault on Baghdad, the division commanders or the theater commander I guess had made the decision that we would have one million plus gallons of fuel on the ground ready for them. So we were talking about over 50 of these 50K bladders just as far as you could see. It took 1200 turns of tankers from Kuwait to fill those.

So our transportation guys were on the road constantly. They did it, within a very short time they had that one million plus gallons of fuel on the ground and that’s what supported not only the 3rd Infantry Division’s tanks but also the 101st Airborne’s helicopters. A lot of fuel. Once we able to establish that logistical base along with water, we had five ROPU’s, reverse osmosis processing unit, and we were sucking dirty polluted water out of the Euphrates River and turning it into pure drinking water.

So supplied all the fuel, all the water, all the food MRE’s, now you asked me earlier if I’d ever gone without food or water in Desert Storm. With the infantry I did not, Air Assault could provide that . The 3rd Infantry Division went without a couple of days. I heard stories that for a couple of days that some soldiers had one MRE and that’s all and they were limited on water. So that was a real challenge to get that logistics established. But it was interesting, I never had been a part of that before.

BRINSFIELD: In addition to your pastoral work, were you able to have any worship services during this time?

Holland: Oh yes. Being in a large building there and had another support battalion located there with us also, we had very, very large worship services. We started out and almost went towards a praise and worship service and a gospel worship service, but we ended combining the two and the other chaplain was Southern Baptist also and he actually pastors a gospel congregation in Fort Benning. I can preach lively enough that I could keep the gospel congregants interested. So we had combined service every Sunday and had 100+ people each Sunday.

Zarbock: Fifty years from now language may change so what’s a gospel service?

Holland: Well it’s black tradition by in large. It’s a much…I guess some people would describe high church and low church, very liturgical service, goes by the liturgy and everything’s read. Of course Baptists and most gospel congregants would tend to be more a Baptist tint, it’s wherever the Lord and the Spirit leads. A lot of singing, a lot of lively singing and dancing and clapping, very lively preaching you know.

Just picture Martin Luther King and that style of preaching. Services sometimes last two to three hours. On every installation you go to in the Army you’ll find a very strong, usually the largest congregation being your gospel congregation.

BRINSFIELD: Could you reflect for just a moment at your own pace and talk about what things went well and what things did not go so well while you were in Iraq with regard to your religious support?

Holland: I had all the support that I needed from my commander and he played the guitar much better than I did and I happened to take mine. He was glad that I did. He thought about taking his. He actually played at a lot of our services. So a lot of involvement from my executive officer and my commanding officer and staff in religious support. So I really had no obstacles there.

The most difficult thing was the counseling and again I would have thought that we would have come a long way in technology since Desert Storm, but we had the worst phone support this time from the signal. Everything was directed up towards the division in Baghdad and we were kind of left with the weakest signals and you just couldn’t get on the phone. There were occasions that I would stay up all night and you could dial sometimes for eight hours and you might get through and I did get through to my wife on our 29th anniversary.

The email was very, very slow. Sometimes you couldn’t even bring up an email and so people again were suffering from lack of contact with family. Mail and I’m sure you read stories about this, mail was atrocious. There are packages still over there somewhere in Iraq that I never got from family. Letters that would take 30 days for us to get. So the counseling load became very heavy after the major combat was over and we sat there for a long time. Basically our commission dwindled to almost nothing and we were just waiting to get the word to go home. So my counseling load was tremendous and almost wore me down.

Fortunately every unit had a satellite phone. It’s about a $30,000 phone and the commander finally turned that phone over to me because we had so many crises that soldiers were coming and saying that they had to get a call. So hey it cost $4 or $5 a minute to talk on that phone. We actually got the directive down from division that it couldn’t be used for personal use which some units were doing. So I was put in charge of that phone and was required to keep a log and I had talked with counsel and choose who could use that phone. So that was an interesting responsibility. I was constantly being woken up in the middle of the night and told I had a soldier I needed to talk to.

Zarbock: That’s playing Solomon.

Holland: It really is. I think there were very few occasions where I would talk with commander and say this soldier doesn’t really need to call home right now. Most all of them, there was a real need. They knew not to come and ask us unless there was a real need.

BRINSFIELD: Did you ask the question of technical chaplain communications, our feeling here from earlier emails with other people is that chaplains are pretty well dispersed and having difficulty talking with each other. Is that true?

Holland: Again with my group chaplain, I had little or no contact. I’m embarrassed I can’t remember his name, Thomas was his first name. He and I just had very little contact until we ended up there at Dogwood and we weren’t far from each other. Then I would see him on a regular basis. Again nothing from the division and again there was kind of a disconnect there, us being a corps support element.

It became a 5th Corps mission as you know. So Chaplain Brown who I knew very well from Germany because he was there before I left Wiesbaden was over there as the corps chaplain, but he was down in Kuwait. So again, I really had no technical chain in my situation. I did, but it just wasn’t there and it wasn’t in place. I had one contact with Chaplain Brown as a corps chaplain, none with Chaplain Heath as I said as division.

Zarbock: John, have you got one more?

BRINSFIELD: I would just like to know what were some of the lessons learned or blessings if you want to put it in a different way than you experienced all these years of being in the military chaplaincy?

Holland: Well people are people anywhere they go and there are more the same needs that we all have at any point in life, are then just magnified. So if there’s any personal crisis whether it’s relationship involved or spiritual dilemma, those things are just magnified during war. The ministry, the opportunities for ministry are just abundant. They’re 24/7, day and night you could be ministering to someone. It’s very easy to burn out.

One thing that I didn't mention and I think it’s very important, we had the only Army Mortuary Affairs team in Iraq attached to us. I did not know that was going to happen, was never told it was going to happen, didn't expect it, but when they showed up, the day they were attached to us was the very same day that the Black Hawk went down and the six soldiers were killed. So I was thrown into that situation totally unexpectantly dealing with our Mortuary Affairs team which had to be sequestered away from the rest of the unit and I would go and minister to them. I prayed over everybody that came through including the NBC correspondent, David Bloom. He died from an aneurysm. A lot of Iraqi civilians, children, soldiers. I had never looked into the face of a dead soldier and prayed over them.

I know that I handled that okay, I’ve been through a lot in ministry and seen a lot of tragic things. It didn't bother me at the time and I was more concerned about the team and ministering to them, but I know now having gotten back home, it’s had an affect on me. It changed me. I actually went through some post-traumatic stress talking to Chaplain Howell and Chaplain Steinbrook quite a bit. Had to take some time off and regroup.

BRINSFIELD: Each day gets better now?

Holland: It does, just glad to be back home, glad to be with my wife. It was a very difficult time for my wife while I was gone because we just moved here and bought a new home and she was unpacking by herself. This time she didn't have her family to go to. My kids had just left home and she again is teaching here in Columbia. She was pretty much on her own. We survived. Army wives are strong, they have the hardest job in the Army.

Zarbock: Thank you sir.

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