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Military Chaplain Has Passion For Service

November 19, 2018

Military Chaplain Has Passion For Service

A select few soldiers defend a higher purpose. The Rev. Murray Thompson is one of them. The pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in Scranton served as a chaplain in Operation Desert Storm. At a recent talk at the Tunkhannock Library, he said military ministers do just about everything soldiers do, except carry weapons. Instead, Thompson carried a Bible and a cross in battle. Chaplains, who date back to the Revolutionary War, are generally uniformed, noncombatant, commissioned officers. They are trained in marching, wear bullet-proof helmets and carry a heavy backpack and water to help fallen soldiers in need, he said. “There are no atheists in war, where soldiers had no idea as to whether their next breath would be their last,” he said. He also comforted those of other faiths in the unit including Jewish and Muslim believers, and there were times he also reached out to prisoners as well. During his presentation, he opened a pack that resembled a medical doctor’s bag but contained Bibles, printed prayers, a chalice for communion and similar religious items. “My only weapon was a 2-inch pocket knife used to open MREs (meals-ready-to-eat),” he said. He said being a chaplain has been special and he’d do it again. “There is a long history dating back to Biblical times that refers to spiritual leaders in battle, that carries us into the New Testament and even up to the 21st century,” Thompson said. Mary Louise Macarchick, a member of the Tunkhannock Daughters of the American Revolution, which sponsored Thompson’s talk, said she was interested to hear the story of Thompson and his wife’s visit to a cemetery in France. “We all have seen photos of the white crosses that seem to go on forever in perfect rows, but Rev. Thompson spoke of how lovingly the French care for the cemeteries where Americans are buried,” she said. “To me, it shows the gratitude that the French have to the Americans who also liberated them from the Nazis in World War II, just as the Americans owed a debt to France for their help in 1776, when they came to our aid in the American Revolution.” Contact the writer: bbaker@wcexaminer.com, 570-836-2123 x33

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