Chaplains making a difference in D.C.
Assemblies of God military chaplains have been playing a key role in
the recovery efforts at the Pentagon following September 11s terrorist
attack. Chaplain Col. Cecil R. Richardson is the command chaplain for
Air Combat Command out of Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va., and
has overseen the assignment of chaplains at the Pentagon and other sites
in the wake of the attacks. Richardson is no stranger to terrorist attacks
he was on duty in Nairobi, Kenya, when the American Embassy was
bombed in 1998.
Col. Cecil R. Richardson
Richardson has command of more than 500 chaplains from all denominations
at 24 military bases, including some overseas. We are doing several
different things all at the same time right now, including working at
the crisis action tents outside the [Pentagon] crash scene, meeting
with and providing grief counseling for the families and caregivers,
and praying with the workers, Richardson said shortly after the
attacks. He also sent teams of chaplains to assist in New York City.
At the Pentagon, most of the efforts of the chaplains have been focused
on supporting the workers and honoring the dead as bodies are recovered
from the crash site. Our chaplains are praying over [workers]
and even holding little services at the scene as the dead are removed,
Richardson says. Praying for the recovery workers has been a large part
of their jobs. They burn out fast, he says. Many of
the body handlers tend to be very young, and most have never seen a
dead body before, let alone carnage and that is what they are
facing out there. Many of these workers have lost people they know,
and the chaplains are there to pray with them and counsel them.
Chaplains have been helping to support family members who have lost
The most common part of our job is answering the question that
many of these people are asking, Richardson says. They want
to know Why?
What we are trying to help people understand
is that God created people with free will, and what we are seeing now
are the results of the abuse of that free will. God is good, He loves
them and He wants to bring peace to them.
Judi Murphy, Assemblies of God Office of Public Relations