Our Military Background

Earth Station Helemano Military Background
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Electronics Technician

When I visit different military ministry web sites I often wonder what the affiliation of the web master, or the people engaged in the ministry, have with the military. Sometimes it is evident from the terminology used on the web site, other times it isn’t. I decided to create this page to answer that question for anyone who wondered that about us. So here goes…

I began my military career straight out of high school when I was 18. I didn’t want to get drafted into the Vietnam war. Thinking there was probably a bullet waiting for me over there with my name on it. Now it’s probably stuck in a tree somewhere! I figured three hot meals a day and a clean rack on a ship three miles off the coast would be safe enough, so I enlisted in the US Navy.

The process began in California with boot camp and basic electronics technician school. That was followed by electronics technician “A” school and satellite communications technician “C” school. Anyway, I thought sure I would get sent straight to a ship following all that schooling, but to my surprise my first assignment was in Hawaii. I know, rough duty, but somebody had to do it! I was stationed on Naval Communications Station Honolulu at Earth Station Helemano.

During my schooling in the Navy, I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior at a Christian servicemen’s center called the “Port ‘O Call” in Castro Valley, California. After my tour of duty in Hawaii I got out of the Navy and went to Bible college. I also joined the Naval Reserves and began actively drilling one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. It was in the enlisted reserves that I got my first real taste of sea duty! I sailed aboard a couple of destroyers, and an LST during my summer training duty.

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Navy Chaplain

After receiving my bachelor’s degree I went on to seminary to get my Master of Divinity Degree. That’s where I saw a recruiting letter on the seminary bulletin board for Naval Chaplain’s School. I thought if I had to go back on active duty, or to war some day, I’d rather be a chaplain than an electronics technician. I was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy Chaplain Corps. I’ll never forget the look on my friends’ faces when I walked into the reserve center the next month as an officer instead of a 3rd class ET!

Eventually there were five chaplains drilling at the reserve center and things just got too crowded for me! The reserve center was half Marine Corps and half Navy. So I went to the Marine Corps I&I and asked him if he wanted a chaplain. He asked me if I was volunteering? I said, “Yes Sir!” So for the next three years I did my weekend drilling and summer duty with the Marine Corps. UuRah!

Following my graduation from seminary I went to Maine as an associate pastor. I did my reserve drills at a Naval Air Station in Brunswick. This gave me my first experience with antisubmarine warfare aboard P3 Orion aircraft.

Finally, I was recalled to active duty,  and once again, sent to Hawaii. There, I served at Submarine Base Pearl Harbor, and as the chaplain for Commander Submarine Squadron One. I made it my responsibility to ride the submarines in my squadron in order to minister to the submarine sailors where they worked and lived. As a matter of fact, I was the first Squadron One chaplain to ride the squadron submarines. I developed and wrote that requirement into the Squadron Standing Operating Procedures for future chaplains.

From there I retired from the US Navy, but not from military ministry!