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News > Retired Air Force Chief of Chaplains speaks at Grand Forks AFB National Prayer Luncheon
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Base chaplain office hosts prayer luncheon
The 319th Air Base Wing Chaplain Office hosted the National Prayer Luncheon Jan. 29, 2013, at the Northern Lights Club on Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez)
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Retired Air Force Chief of Chaplains speaks at Grand Forks AFB National Prayer Luncheon

Posted 1/31/2013   Updated 1/31/2013 Email story   Print story


by Tim Flack
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/31/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- He flew combat rescue missions in Vietnam, helped clean the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo's wrath on South Carolina, ministered to his troops during Desert Storm, and was in the Pentagon when it was attacked on 9/11.

For the last five years of his impressive career, Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Charles C. Baldwin, who retired in 2008, served as the Air Force Chief of Chaplains.

On Jan. 29, Baldwin recounted his experiences while delivering a keynote speech for the annual National Prayer Luncheon, thanks to an invitation from the 319th Air Base Wing's chapel team.

Baldwin compared his belief in faith, what he metaphorically calls 'Faithbook,' to Facebook, the worldwide social networking sensation that now features more than a billion active users.

Facebook is a wonderful tool for staying in touch with family and friends, he said.
He brought laughs from about 130 attendees when he said that he had finally become "friends" with his children on Facebook.

"You keep up with everything from 'Jane got promoted,' to 'Johnny got a new tooth,'" Baldwin said. But he said that his Faithbook would have three main postings: Fear not, forgiveness and faith.

He said he believed the first posting, fear not, would strike a chord with anyone who had deployed into a combat zone. Baldwin told the crowd that he would love to hear their personal stories.

"You've been there," Baldwin said. "Perhaps you were deployed, or on a convoy through IED territory ... fear not."

He said his second posting, forgiveness, is one of the most powerful events someone can experience in their life.

"All of us need to be forgiven," he said. "Many of us need to forgive someone else."

His last posting, faith, is something that means different things to different people, Baldwin said. He added that the Air Force does a great job of respecting everyone's choice on their personal beliefs.

During a one-on-one interview before his address, Baldwin spoke of being raised as the son of an Air Force chaplain, and how it impacted his own decision making.

"I grew up in a chaplain's home and I determined that I did not want to be a chaplain," he said. "I didn't feel that was my role."

Baldwin opted for the U.S. Air Force Academy and the life of a pilot. But while at the academy, he said he felt a calling to the ministry.

"But I owed the Air Force five years for my education," he said. He served those five years as a pilot, serving two tours in Vietnam. He got out of the Air Force, studied at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and came back in the service as a chaplain.

Baldwin said his highlight as a military chaplain was deploying to Desert Storm.
"That's when I think I hit the most rewarding time of my chaplain life be a pastor to the people who were flying in combat and those supporting them, of course" Baldwin said.

"I think all of us chaplains, like any person who deals with people's lives, want good things and want happiness and joy," Baldwin said. "But I think we are prepared and blessed to be present in the crisis of life, in the serious moments."

He added that a great privilege of being a military chaplain is "that you are present for duty ... a chaplain on the battlefield makes such a huge difference."

He explained that as the Chief of Chaplains, he visited the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan eight times.

"It truly changed my life forever to see those men and women step forward and do what they were trained to do and then to see our chaplains, as well, provide ministry and care for those people in the forward areas."

Baldwin said he's glad he has the chance to continue to interact with the active duty Air Force. His trip to Grand Forks enabled him to see just how much the mission on base has changed since his last visit five years ago.

"But it's not the weapons, or the things that we use, it's the people that make this nation so great and so remarkable," he said. "What I learned not only as a pilot and a chaplain, but throughout my whole career, is that every Airman is important. Every Airman has a significant role to play."

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