Tinker chaplain makes rounds in Africa

  • Published
  • By Maj. Khalid Cannon
  • Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa
Tinker's deployed chaplain is on a mission in Africa.

During his visit to various units around East Africa, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Terrinoni celebrated Christian Holy Week with Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa personnel and provided spiritual support to several units in the region.

Chaplain Terrinoni, who is the CJTF HOA deputy director for Religious Affairs, and deployed from Tinker, led the service at Camp Kasenyi, Uganda, with Chaplain (Navy Cmdr.) Stephen Beyer, Camp Lemonnier command chaplain. Staff members, the Ugandan People's Defense Force instructors and U.S. Embassy personnel attended.

"Every time I saw the chaplain before I left for Kasenyi, I asked him to come and visit with us. When I found out that he was coming for Palm Sunday, I wanted to plan something small," said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Ronald Eusebio.

As the senior enlisted leader at Camp Kasenyi, and one of Chief Eusebio's responsibilities is supporting the morale of the enlisted training staff that includes members of the 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery. Chief Eusebio spoke about why he felt the service was important.

"I invited the State Department personnel, UPDF soldiers, and the contractors to have a service followed by a fellowship," said Chief Eusebio. "Everyone needs to get recharged in order to keep focused on everyday life. The service energized me and it was great to have an opportunity to fellowship outside of our jobs. I think it was a breadth of fresh air."

Among the 38 attendees was Ugandan Army Captain Richard Ssjemba, the UPDF school course coordinator. Captain Ssjemba has been in the army for seven years and has served in the infantry and artillery.

"The service was really good and I was excited to speak with the chaplains," said Captain Ssjemba. "I would like us to have a unit of military chaplains because that is one thing we are lacking."

Chaplain Terrinoni next traveled to Moroni, Comoros, an island located off the coast of Mozambique to visit with a five-person team assigned to the 402d Civil Affairs Battalion. During the stopover, the team visited a middle school and a medical clinic to determine potential renovation projects.

On April 22, Army Master Sgt. Luis Diaz, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Benton and Chaplain Terrinoni traveled to the Ecole Nationale Des Forces Armees et de La Gendarmerie to lead an English discussion group with members of the armed forces and civilians throughout the community.

While at the school, Chaplain Terrinoni had the opportunity to meet with Comoros Gendarmerie 1st Lt. Taoufik Housseine, head English instructor at the ENFAG. In 1992, Lieutenant Housseine graduated from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, the same year Chaplain Terrinoni was completing the Chaplains Course there.

The discussion between the two turned to religious faith.

"While I was studying in Texas, I was baptized and born again. When I came back to the Comoros, I professed my faith and was sent to prison for two years," Lieutenant Housseine said. "I had to hire a lawyer and fought the charges because they were based only on my religion."

When he was released, Lieutenant Housseine was ordered not to proselytize students in his course. For almost 20 years he has taught English to thousands of students including the former president and vice president, and the current vice president.

Chaplain Terrinoni next led a service for the team members in the team house, which included communion.

After traveling to Manda Bay, Kenya, to meet with personnel assigned to Camp Simba, Chaplain Terrinoni held a Good Friday service. With no chaplain assigned, Senior Airman Nicholas Cox served as the lay leader and taught a weekly bible study.

"I always had a passion to speak in front of others about my faith," said Airman Cox. "It is a big responsibility, and one that I was blessed to have."

Easter service was held at the camp's morale welfare and recreation facility, and was attended by about 20 camp personnel.

"I can't thank Chaplain Terrinoni enough for his visit. Whether it is leading services or providing counseling to our personnel, his presence is definitely appreciated," said Navy Cmdr. David Harrod, Camp Simba officer-in-charge.

At the conclusion of the trip, Chaplain Terrinoni reflected on his opportunity to visit with CJTF-HOA personnel throughout East Africa.

"I am constantly impressed by our Combined Joint Task Force members every day. Whether supporting our forward elements from Headquarters or actually being and interacting with them at their forward locations, the whole team is making a difference in this region," said Chaplain Terrinoni.