JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
“It was 14 years of really dedicated work to prepare, and so that’s why I’m really passionate about the chaplaincy,” stated Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Cloyd L. Colby, chaplain for the 502nd Force Support Group and Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
During a recent encounter with chaplain recruiters from the 5th Medical Recruiting Battalion, Colby, who served in the Army for nearly four decades, felt compelled to share his journey to becoming a U.S. Army chaplain.
Colby, who joined the Army National Guard as a teletype operator in 1981, stated, “The initial passion that I had was the love for America.”
It wasn’t long before Colby realized he was called to serve both God and country.
“During basic training, I started noticing my chaplain was a side-by-side leader and I just gravitated toward that model of leadership, a servant leader. I said to him one day, ‘I think I want to be a chaplain,’” Colby explained. “And he said, ‘Pvt. Colby, I want you to talk to the first chaplain you see when you get to AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Fort Gordon and let them know you’re interested in the chaplaincy.”
A few days after Colby arrived at AIT, in line at the chow hall for Thanksgiving dinner was an Army chaplain.
“I introduced myself and told him, ‘I think I want to be a chaplain,’” Colby said. “And you know what he told me? He said, ‘I believe you are going to be a chaplain one day.’”
Looking back, Colby realized it was a mixture of his desire and God’s intervention that got him to where he is today.
“That feedback that I got from the chaplain at Fort Gordon when he said, ‘I think you are going to be a chaplain,’ gave me sustaining strength for 14 years. I kept going back to that,” Colby said.
Those 14 years were spent meeting the various requirements to become an Army chaplain while Colby served in the Active National Guard Reserve program.
To help accomplish his goals, Colby also relied on the guidance and support provided by his U.S. Army recruiter.
“My chaplain recruiter encouraged me along the way,” Colby added. “I had a list of requirements the military gave me and it can be overwhelming, so you need people on your side to help you get focused and realize that.”
Once Colby completed the academic and religious requirements in 1995, he commissioned as an active-duty Army chaplain and attended the Chaplain Basic Officers Leadership Course at the U.S. Army Chaplain School and Center at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
“One thing about basic officer training for the chaplaincy is that you become so aware of the variety of faith groups and the differences, but what comes out also is the similarities,” Colby said. “It’s just amazing to see the principles of faith being expressed in all of these different faith traditions. It’s a really neat environment to work in.”
When Colby was asked what his most rewarding experience was as a chaplain, he said, “There are so many. I got to lead the 10th Mountain Division Brigade Combat Team into Iraq, leading 10 military ministry teams. That was very rewarding. You have ministry opportunities every minute of the day.”
From ministering in contingency operations around the world to serving stateside at post chapels, hospitals and unit ministry teams, the Army chaplaincy has many career opportunities available to serve the spiritual needs of Soldiers and their families.
“I’ve given a lot to it (the U.S. Army chaplaincy), but I’ve received so much in return, and I just want to pass that legacy on,” Colby added.
For more information about serving as a U.S. Army chaplain, visit https://www.goarmy.com/chaplain.html and http://www.facebook.com/5thmedicalrecruitingbattalion.