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DVIDS – News – From Officer’s Stripes to Captain’s Bars to Chaplain’s Cross, 100th ARW Officer Follows a Higher Call to Help Others

Beginning life in the Air Force as an enlisted maintainer in August 2005 working on ground radar maintenance, Terry Owens worked hard to graduate and in March 2017 became an Aircraft Maintainer.

From an early age, his faith grew and he realized that it would one day become his calling. It was September 27, 2022, when Captain Owens, Director of Operations for 100 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, finally hit the path he had prepared for when he was taken out of service. and returned to service as chaplain-captain, replacing one of his maintainers. career badges with a cross during a ceremony at RAF Lakenheath Chapel.

“I was a commissionaire after graduating to get away from maintenance. I wanted to leave that life behind because I had been a maintainer on ground radar systems since leaving high school in 2005,” Owens said. “It took me 10 years to get my undergraduate degree, but the Air Force saw fit – even though it wasn’t on my list – to appoint me a maintenance officer.”

“My heart sank a bit and I first contacted the Air Force Personnel Center to ask for another job. But I’m grateful that after discussing it with my wife, Casandra, she made me realize that it was the maintenance community I could help.

The 100th AMXS Director of Operations explained that maintenance is one of the career fields that has very high suicide and divorce rates.

“Knowing these things was kind of a deterrent, but Casandra said to me, based on my life’s call to ministry, ‘Don’t you think that’s where you need to be?’ As soon as she said that, I dialed back my PSAC email and came aboard as 21A Maintenance Officer, which I have done for the last five years of my career.

Owens remembers the exact date when religion became an important part of his life.

“April 4, 1997 was when my grandmother and her pastor introduced my siblings and me to the story of Jesus Christ, and that’s when my journey began,” he said. he declares. “When I was 10, I remember sitting in the front row of a Baptist church in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where I grew up, and listening to my pastor speak one Sunday night. just felt this pull, this call, which I believe was my interaction with God, saying ‘You’ll do this for me someday’, talking about preaching. That’s where the call started and it happened. confirmed when I was at a Men of Iron Conference (Spiritual Retreat) in March 2020, as I was finishing my Masters. That’s when I felt it was time to step out and start full-time ministry. .

When he decided to join the Air Force, Owens recalled that he wanted to be a physical therapist because he really enjoyed working with people. Instead, he was given his number two job maintaining ground radars.

“It wasn’t until years later that I realized it wasn’t necessarily the human body, but the human mind and the human heart is what I was brought to work on, so to speak. . What pushed me to become an officer is like the analogy between a pebble and a rock; when you throw a pebble into a pond, it only makes a few ripples, but throwing a pebble has a greater effect. I knew that as I learned and grew as a person, as a man, as a leader in the military, I could have that effect and make more changes as a officer rather than enlisted. So while I was completing my bachelor’s and undergraduate in Christian leadership and management, I moved forward and applied, and was selected in 2016,” he said.

“In May 2020 COVID-19 had just kicked in and it was around this time that I was preparing for the permanent change of station in England. I already knew from the age of 10 that I was called to the ministry, but at that moment I felt the affirmative call; it was time to do what I had to do to become a chaplain.

The opportunity to enter full-time ministry soon presented itself when Owens and his family were sent to England, where they would run a Christian center. The center is an innovation of a private, religiously-oriented organization, the first of its kind in the US Air Force. It started in Mildenhall Village, then moved to RAF Feltwell when they needed a lot more space. Their church partners with the RAF Lakenheath Chapel, providing additional ministry support to the community at all three bases. With so many Airmen, American civilians and families within the tri-base community, having that extra avenue where people can pray is essential to providing additional support to military families.

In order to apply to become an active duty chaplain, the requirement is two years of postgraduate ministry experience.

“Coming to Mildenhall allowed me to take over from a departing pastor and gave me the opportunity not only to do what I was called to do – to begin full-time ministry right away – but also to to get the experience I needed to become a chaplain,” Owens said.

“I had to overcome a lot of adversity, much of it, if I’m honest, self-induced, after going through the divorce – not just going through it as a child, but in my own life afterwards. Having seen first-hand how the military can have the potential to break families apart, I wanted to use my remaining time in the military to fight for marriages and those fighting suicide; fight for souls and give back people their purpose and calling, letting them know that no matter how dark things may be, there is a light and a way I just want to help people be the best version of themselves while continuing to serve their country,” Owens remarked.

Chaplains are a different class of officers, which Owens says is why he had to be decommissioned as an unranked officer and recommissioned as a chaplain.

“You have your traditional unranked officers, as well as ranked officers such as fliers, and then a special class of officers which includes chaplains and judge advocates. Chaplains need a very specialized skill set with at least a master’s degree in theology, at least 72 hours of religious training, plus two years of post-graduate ministry experience and ecclesiastical endorsement, so it’s a completely different type of officer,” he said. “Most chaplains entering directly into active duty would need seven years of ministry experience to be promoted to captain, otherwise they would be promoted to first lieutenant. But because of my military experience, combined with my ministerial experience, I am allowed to continue serving and am now a “blessed” chaplain in my own right.

Owens is now at FE Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, and will start running after signing to his new base the day after he left RAF Mildenhall.

He shared his thanks not only to his wife and three children, but to his 21A Maintenance family and the leadership of the 100th Air Refueling Wing, who together made it possible for him to follow his call, and to his church family for their support.

“I look forward to continuing to minister from a different perspective over the next 10-15 years in the Chapel Corps. usually occupied by senior captains or majors – and I was able to participate in different operations during my time here. To be part of this generation’s effort and to be part of the Bloody Hundredth legacy that will outlive us all is is so humbling to end my maintenance career on something that will forever be remembered in the history books of the United States Air Force and the Department of Defense,” he remarked.

Date taken: 29.09.2022
Date posted: 29.09.2022 10:22
Story ID: 430357
Location: GB

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