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New chaplain plans active outreach

Mark Sanchez Friday, August 26, 2011

New chaplain plans active outreach Lt. Col. Kwon Pyo, far right, greets a well-wisher as former chaplain Maj. Kevin Doll looks on.
Lt. Col. Kwon Pyo, the new chaplain at Picatinny Arsenal, isn’t going to wait for installation personnel to seek him out.

He’s going to make it a point to constantly meet and reach out the Picatinny community.

“After 18 years of ministry, I no longer wait for people to come to me; I go to the people,” Chaplain Pyo said. “As soon as I settle down I want to visit people in their workplace. If someone has issues or problems, I want to be there to talk to them in an informal setting.”

Pyo, who has been in the United States Army for 18 years including 14 months in Baghdad, Iraq, as the senior hospital chaplain, became the installation chaplain on July 24. He succeeds Maj. Kevin Doll, who has been reassigned to Ft. Sam Houston.

The Korean-American chaplain plans to make a concerted effort to be as available to the Picatinny public as much as possible.

He will make minimum use of a car on the installation to foster interaction with people he meets while walking. He seeks the same sense of openness from the community.

“I don’t want people to shy away from me,” he said. “I’d like to be their friend; I love to listen and talk to anyone about their issues. I deeply care about people in our community.”

Pyo was born in Kwang-ju, South Korea. He spent about three years in the Korean Army as part of their mandatory national duty.

It wasn’t until 1984 that he journeyed to the United States. He attended the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri, and, upon graduation, served as a pastor of Korean-American churches.

At the age of 37, Pyo joined the U.S. Army and became a chaplain. He soon added Army Air Borne Training.

“That was hard because I’m scared to even climb to the top of a diving board,” he joked.

In the Army, he has served as a Chaplain for Infantry units, an Armor unit, an Aviation Support unit, a Field Artillery unit, a Combat Support Hospital, an Air Defense Artillery unit, and in garrison leadership.

From 2006-07, he was deployed to Baghdad. “It was difficult,” Pyo remembers. “There were thousands of wounded warriors. It was the most traumatic time of my life.”

After his deployments, the chaplain is determined to assist Soldiers and military personnel as much as possible. With the appointment to Picatinny Chaplain, he wants to further energize the installation as a “caring community.”

After arriving at Picatinny, Pyo said he was impressed by the overall friendliness of the community.

“Everyone has been so kind and nice,” he noted.

“People welcomed me and my family into this community. I want to be their friend, confidant, and counselor to meet their human needs.

“But more than anything, I’d like to help build a caring community in which people care for each other.”

Pyo wants to talk with and assist everyone on the installation as well as bring the community closer.

“So often we come to work, we do our work and then we go back home at the end of each day,” he observed.

“Open your heart to others. You may hear the cry of a lonely heart.
“We all have our own human needs and human problems. Let’s build a caring community. Let’s take care of each other.“Life can be a very lonely journey without caring friends.”

Pyo emphasized that chaplains are not solely for spiritual help. He sees himself as, first and foremost, a friend who can also provide advice or counseling to Soldiers, civilians and family members regardless of their religious affiliation.

“We depend on each other,” the chaplain said. “Picatinny is not just a place of work. Let’s make it a home away from home in which love and caring hearts bloom. We the people of Picatinny are one BIG family.

“It is nice to have a friend who listens to you without any judgmental attitude.”

Chaplain Pyo stressed his availability; he wants people to contact him for anything, no matter how small.
He can be reached at x4139, or via cell phone at 973-349-8389.