On the night of February 25, 2015, Chaplain (CAPT) Matthew Christensen, USA, was thrust into a situation in which he discovered a duty he may have considered during his training but had not encountered in his experience. Serving as the duty chaplain at a base in Alaska, Christensen was called out to a situation in a soldier's room. Arriving he found an intoxicated soldier with several knives suffering from a breakdown. In the room with this man in need of care was his roommate and another individual. You can read more details in the article attached but to cut to the chase, Chaplain Christensen saved the soldier from suicide and another individual from bodily harm by placing the man in need of care in a choke-hold and physically restraining him until he could be taken into custody.
Yesterday, at Fort Benning, GA, where he is now stationed, Chaplain Christensen was awarded the Soldier's Medal, the Army's highest con-combat award for his actions that evening just over two years ago. Maj. Gen. Eric j. Wesley, Commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, attended the ceremony and brought remarks. The General noted, "The thing about chaplains is they are special because they answer the call twice. They answer the call to their God and they answer the call to their nation. Chaplain Christensen answered a third call, and it was demonstrated in his act of bravery."
Lt. Col. Franklin F. Baltazar, Christensen's current commanding officer, added to our understanding of the event. In an interview with the chaplain he found Christensen "stepped in to do what was right, despite the risk, uncertainty and fear of losing his own life. His personal faith and values were imprinted on his actions. It wasn't just fear of losing his own life, it was fear of losing everyone's life."
Faithfully discharging our duties. Not included in an officer's oath of office but prominent in the oath taken by the President is the phrase, "preserve, protect, and defend.' In the presidential oath it applies to the Constitution. Based on Christensen's actions, perhaps we can better understand what our duties include to a fuller extent--being willing to risk much to preserve, protect, and defend the lives brought into our care-- no matter their current state nor the source from which they come.
Congratulations, Chaplain Christensen, for your commitment to your call, for performing your duties, for upholding your oath, and for acting as we might hope all of us would.
Military Chaplains Association
Original Article from the Ledger-Enquirer by Robin Trimarchi