The Rev. Stuart Kenworthy, rector of Christ Church, Georgetown, is serving as an Army chaplain with the 372nd Military Police Battalion in Iraq. He’s due home next month.
Please take a look at one of his recent letters home.
Once you have “broken the wire” and security of the camp, the sound of radios crackling with transmissions begins, with all eyes reporting any movement around us, both pedestrian and vehicular. The driver and right side rider and gunner are all connected by headphones for easy communication. The sounds of the roaring engine, air conditioner, radio transmissions and voices within the vehicle all make that necessary. The vehicles are in a constant state of radio communication with each other. Tactical distances are observed as well as evasive maneuvers around underpasses and other places with high incidents of IED attacks or snipers. The sirens are intermittently sounded along with strong and practiced hand signals by the gunner (who is sticking out of the top of the hummer) to move other vehicles away from our path. If that does not work there is a microphone which can broadcast warnings to anyone approaching the convoy too closely.
Vehicle-borne IEDs are one of the big threat in these scenarios. They simply pull up along side and detonate. They are generally very large blasts because they are packed to the hilt with large ordnance. And then as we speed along toward our destination all eyes – chaplain included – scan every sector looking for anything that could bring immediate threat or danger. I have been amazed how calm I have felt throughout these missions and not sure whether to attribute it to inexperience or a deeper and abiding trust in God’s protection. Both could be true. I hope that question will not be tested to further limits, but that is always possible.
The return trip is all of the above described, in reverse, except for the palpable sense of relief and even exhilaration that comes with being back inside the walls of safety. And lastly and most importantly, there is the sound of a whispered prayer of thanks for safe passage out and back.