October 23, 2008

Va. Air Guard chaplain assistant provides support, assistance to military members in Guam

By Lt. Col Deb Magaldi
Virginia Air Guard Public Affairs

Chaplain (Lt.Col) Greg Clapper (right) and Master Sgt. Mark Lounello (left) traveled to Guam this summer as part of a religious support team.

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — Master Sgt. Mark Lounello, a chaplain assistant with the 192nd Fighter Wing, served the home-based and deployed communities at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam this summer.

Lounello was deployed to Anderson AFB from July 8 through Sept. 9 as part of a religious support team. The Air National Guard Chaplaincy regularly fills the aerospace expeditionary force flightline ministry at Anderson AFB. Lounello served on the RST with Chaplain (Lt.Col.) Greg Clapper, from the 122nd FW in Indiana. They daily ministered to the deployed aircrews and maintenance personnel on the flightline at Anderson, and provided support for morale-building activities across the base.

In the wake of a tragic B-52 crash off the coast of Guam on July 21, Lounello and Clapper “were where God needed them to be,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Keith A. Lingsch, from the National Guard Bureau Readiness Center, in a letter recognizing the men's efforts. “They tirelessly worked to bring God’s comfort and peace. In a chaotic situation they did their job and did it well! Thanks for being God’s representatives and bringing healing to those that are hurting.”

All six aircrew members aboard the B-52H Stratofortress perished when the aircraft went down during a training mission. It had been scheduled to fly over crowds celebrating Liberation Day, which commemorates the U.S. capture of Guam from Japan in 1944. The aircraft and its crew were based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., but were at Anderson AFB as part of a four-month rotation.

The Airmen of the RST provided disaster response and ministry after the B-52 crash. They provided support on the flightline and in the command post, squadron and clinic during the round-the-clock response and recovery efforts. They worked side-by-side with the Anderson chapel staff in planning and carrying out the Anderson AFB memorial service honoring the lives, service and sacrifices of the perished aircrew. The memorial service was attended by more than 2,000.

Clapper and Lounello also ministered to, and supported a memorial service for, deployed Airmen from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, after the untimely death of their commander Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Tinsley, commander of the 3rd Wing, Elmendorf AFB.

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