The United Methodist Reporter is offering the latest headlines in the RSS format.
Chaplain remembers fallen helicopter pilot Kathy Gilbert, Aug 29, 2011
PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO NATIONAL GUARD
Army Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter was one of 30 service members killed Aug. 6 when their helicopter was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan.
By Kathy L. Gilbert United Methodist News Service
POWDER SPRINGS, Ga .—“He died doing what he loved to do, which is flying. Pilots aren’t happy unless they are flying and he was doing it in the most significant arena he ever had before.”
The Rev. Jim Higgins, an Army Reserve chaplain and pastor of McEachern Memorial United Methodist Church in Powder Springs, Ga., served with Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 David R. Carter, one of the pilots killed along with 29 other American service members on Aug. 6 during a rescue mission in Afghanistan.
Mr. Higgins remembers Carter as a man who was always smiling.
Carter, 47, was a 24-year veteran of the Army and had two children, Kyle, a 20-year-old son, and Kaitlen, a 17-year-old daughter who is a senior in high school, Mr. Higgins said.
Mr. Higgins said his heart goes out to the family. “If I was there I would just hold them and say I’m sorry because there is really nothing else you can say.”
But once it was time to talk, Mr. Higgins would tell Carter’s loved ones, “He knew what he was doing and he died doing what he loved.” Soldiers train for dangerous missions and they go into harm’s way, Mr. Higgins said. Carter spent his entire adult life training for that moment.
“There is always that question, ‘How will I perform?’ He had that answer; he performed heroically.”
Mr. Higgins was deployed to Iraq for 18 months in 2006-2007, and he was Carter’s chaplain during that time.
“He was just one of those guys who was always pleasant, always had a smile on his face. Always greeted you warmly. I never saw him angry or upset.”
Take care of families
But, Mr. Higgins has an important message for United Methodists: Take care of deployed soldiers’ families.
Mr. Higgins depended on church members to support his wife and children while he was away. “If she had a flat tire or a battery that needed swapping out, they were looking out for her.”
That kind of care from a local congregation “means the world to us,” he said.
Since the wars began nearly a decade ago, United Methodist congregations have heard that call and responded with everything from stitching boxer shorts to making handmade greeting cards to standing in airports waiting to salute returning troops.
On Memorial Day this year, the congregation of Christ United Methodist Church in Bethesda, Md., took up a special offering for a young Marine veteran injured in Afghanistan. Even though he is not a member of the church, the community embraced his family, said the Rev. Scott Mann, senior pastor.
“My kids all go to the same school he graduated from,” said Mr. Mann. “I connected with Matt’s family in a way because we’re both from big families.”
How churches help
The United Methodist Church’s phone card campaign started in 2003 and ended in 2010 because Internet-based communications such as Skype reduced the need. Before the campaign ended, more than 17 million minutes were put in the hands of soldiers around the world by United Methodist chaplains. “The phone card program grew out of the love and support for our military families from our United Methodist churches,” said the Rev. Tom Carter, director for the United Methodist Endorsing Agency, the agency that approves pastors as chaplains.
“That is radically different than Vietnam,” he said. “Although the wars are not extremely popular, the military personnel were not branded as ‘baby killers.’”
As the families of the men who died in the Aug. 6 crash grieve, reach out to them from your local churches, Mr. Higgins said. “Just knowing people are standing in the gap for you makes you able to focus on the mission at hand when you are downrange,” Mr. Higgins said.
“If you see something that can be done don’t even ask, just go ahead and do it. It means the world to the families and the deployed soldiers.”