Serving a one-year tour in Iraq as a Navy chaplain, I was assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force. My task: to provide ministry coverage to a battalion special task force located in the western desert of the Al Anbar province, an area bordering Syria and Jordan.
The region is arid, isolated, and harsh. The task force of marines providing security to the area was spread out in small groups occupying command outposts and forward operating bases throughout the region.
Providing ministry coverage required long convoys to the outposts from a base camp known as Camp Korean Village, a small village once built and occupied by North Koreans who were contracted by Saddam Hussein to build the highway that connects Jordan and Syria with Central Iraq.
In the summer, the temperature reaches 140 degrees. Doing ministry in this environment means long hours of boredom mixed with conducting field services for sometimes as few as two or three and at other times as many as 40.
I wasn't there long before ...1