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Commentary Search

June Chaplain's Reflections

  • Published
  • By Capt. Matthew Gray
  • 169th Fighter Wing

April 14, 1715 was the start of the Yamasee War in South Carolina. It was a bloody two-year war between South Carolina Colonials and various Native American tribes. If it was not for the brave militia of South Carolina, many more South Carolinians might have lost their lives. It was a serious time for the colony of South Carolina and I am sure that they could have used a Chaplain to minister to the needs of the militia. Sadly, it would not be until the establishment of the Chaplain Corps in 1776 by George Washington himself that Chaplains such as John Simpson, Samuel Hart, and Henry Purcell would be among the first to serve the State of South Carolina.


Countless Chaplains since, have proudly sacrificed alongside our fellow Americans by advising leadership, providing spiritual support, caring for the sick and dying, consoling grieving widows, counseling the confused, and even giving their own lives to save the lives of others. Chaplains offer a friendly smile of encouragement, an understanding heart, and a good laugh when needed.


As I reflect upon our history and the Chaplain's role within it, I would like to leave you with a story of one of South Carolina’s first Chaplains. His name was Rev. Edmund Botsford. General Andrew Williamson, of the 3rd Brigade, commissioned him into the South Carolina Militia in 1778. Pastor Botsford was known as the “flying preacher” because he traveled with the militia as they moved about. During one service, Pastor Botsford was preaching when, “…One of the sentries posted nearby was listening to the preacher and he became drowsy. As he began to drop his head and nod off, a large goat nibbling grass near him noticed the man nodding off. The goat interpreted the nodding as a challenge to battle. The goat charged the man and hit him low. Many of the men listening to the sermon observed the collision and began to laugh. Pastor Botsford could not find it in his heart to criticize the laughter.” (Memoirs of Elder Botsford by Charles D. Mallory, 1832, pages 45-55).


A chaplain is merciful…but a chaplain is also just! I am sure you will find your current Chaplains equally discerning, our preaching far less boring, and no doubt equally helpful at lifting your spirits! We come from a proud heritage in the South Carolina Air National Guard and we, your “flying preachers”, proudly serve with you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you. Together we will continue to serve our Nation and the fine people of South Carolina as we protect our long legacy of valor for future generations.