CJTF Chaplain Celebrates Holy Week with Deployed Personnel
During his visit to various units around East Africa, Chaplain (U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel) David Terrinoni celebrated Christian Holy Week with Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) personnel beginning with a Palm Sunday service on April 17.
Terrinoni, who is the CJTF HOA deputy director for Religious Affairs, led the service at Camp Kasenyi, Uganda, with Chaplain (U.S. Navy Commander) Stephen Beyer, Camp Lemonnier command chaplain, for staff members, the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) instructors and U.S. Embassy personnel.
Palm Sunday is celebrated annually by Christians the Sunday before Easter, and commemorates the day of Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem when his followers waved palm branches and laid articles of clothing in front of him.
“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 Eusebio’s responsibilities is supporting the morale of the enlisted training staff that includes members of the 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery. 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 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. 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 Ssjemba. “I would like us to have a unit of military chaplains because that is one thing we are lacking.”
Both Terrinoni and Beyer led the morning service, which consisted of hymns, a sermon, communion and scriptural readings detailing the crucifixion of Jesus.
“The military staff from the Embassy doesn’t get the opportunity to get down here often, so it was great for everyone to get together for this service. It’s very important for morale, and I wish we could do this every Sunday,” said U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Arabelle Flores. Flores is assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.
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, U.S. Army Master Sergeant Luis Diaz, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Benton and Terrinoni traveled to the Ecole Nationale Des Forces Armees et de La Gendarmerie (ENFAG) to lead an English discussion group with members of the armed forces and civilians throughout the community.
While at the school, Terrinoni had the opportunity to meet with Comoros Gendarmerie 1st Lieutenant Taoufik Housseine, head English instructor at the ENFAG. In 1992, Housseine graduated from the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, the same year Terrinoni was completing the Chaplains Course there.
The discussion between Housseine and Terrinoni 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,” he said. “I had to hire a lawyer and fought the charges because they were based only on my religion.”
When he was released, 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.
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, 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 Cox. “It is a big responsibility, and one that I was blessed to have.” Cox, who has been in the Air Force for almost six years, is considering retraining into the chaplain assistant career field.
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 U.S. Navy Commander David Harrod, Camp Simba officer-in-charge.
At the conclusion of the trip, 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 Terrinoni.