Chaplain (Major General) Gaylord T. Gunhus, USA, Retired, 20th Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army, completed his final march on Friday, the 27th of May. His service spanned 37 years from Vietnam through 9/11 and beyond. In retirement, he continued his ministry as a Chaplain for Life and never forgot the needs of his fellow chaplains as they supported military members and families around the globe.
Chaplain Gunhus leaves behind not footprints, but bootprints, for us to follow. His successor as Chief of Chaplains (Major General) David Hicks, said under his "tireless leadership, more innovative initiatives were attempted and accomplished than in any previous four-year period since the end of the Vietnam War." As the Chief of Chaplains on September 11, 2001, Chaplain Gunhus saw the "the pace and direction of the Chaplaincy turned from business as usual to a world-wide war on terrorism, with all of the associated strains that war brings to those who are entrusted with the spiritual strength of the Army." Chaplain Gunhus rose to the occasion and brought words of comfort and hope to the nation at the Memorial Service for the first losses of the war on October 11, 2001.
Chaplain Gunhus' maturing as a chaplain came in his own combat experience in Vietnam. In his words,"Night after night we were under heavy attack by the enemy. On one particular evening we were under intensive attack. My chaplain assistant and I were hunkered down in a sand bag bunker. I cried out to the Lord, 'Why me Lord? Why have you brought me here?' As if the Lord stood by my side to assure me, I heard words from John 15:16 ring in my ears.
"You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last."
"It was then I really became a chaplain. The Lord gave me peace, hope and courage. I became free to be the person God wanted me to be."
Commenting in 2003 on controversies surrounding embedded reporters in combat units, Chaplain Gunhus reflected his concept of chaplains formed that night in Vietnam by writing, "The embedded reporters describe and broadcast what they see. And I see the influence of the embedded chaplains, who contribute to the character of our soldiers as they extend their caring to young men and women who might not have the witness of faith without these clergy in uniform. I covet your prayers for peace and for the guardians of peace, our soldiers on point for the nation."
Chaplain Gunhus knew the person God formed him to be and lived out his calling through his service to all. We celebrate his sublime life and ministry and pray his soul may rest in the peace he now enjoys.
Executive Director, Military Association of the United States of America
A Powerful Statement: "I see the influence of embedded chaplains, who contribute to the character of soldiers as they extend their caring to young men and women who might not have the witness of faith without these clergy in uniform." Should our military be strengthen by the next President of the United States, it will call for a larger number of military chaplains. Now is the time for our young men and women in ministry to plan to answer the call of God upon their lives to qualify to be military chaplains. There is no doubt about it, we will need a significant number of new IPHC military chaplains for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Let us join our efforts to pray earnestly for Chaplain (Colonel) Jerry J. Jones, Director/Endorser of Chaplains Ministries, IPHC that God will grant him discernment, wisdom, patience, strength, and glowing health to be able to fulfill the mission God has given him.
You may contact Chaplain Jones by writing an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
[Editor's Comment: It was my joy and pleasure to get to know Chaplain Gaylord T. Gunhus when he was Chief of Army Chaplains. When I was Director/Endorser of Chaplains Ministries, IPHC, I made it my business to get to know each of the Chiefs of Chaplains of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as Veterans Administration Hospital Chiefs of Chaplains. Chaplain Gunhus was an ordained minister of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren, America Synod, an evangelical denomination. He brought a much needed spiritual dimension to the Chief of Army Chaplains Office. His influence was great, and he knew how to relate in positive ways to endorsers of a number of denominations and faith groups. His messages were always uplifting, and he had the ability to make his hearers think deeply. I extend to his family my sincere condolences. I am confident Gaylord T. Gunhus is now in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ for Whom he was not afraid to speak His Name.]