HomeNewsArticle Display

Retired general reminds Airmen to remember spiritual fitness

Retired General Robert C. Oaks, former U. S. Air Forces in Europe commander and General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, speaks to Airmen of the 151 Air Refueling Wing at the Utah Air National Guard Base in Salt Lake, on Sunday March 13. Gen. Oaks spoke to Guard members about the importance of spirituality and service as part of the unit's annual Devotional.(U. S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Stegall)(RELEASED)

Retired General Robert C. Oaks, former U. S. Air Forces in Europe commander and General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, speaks to Airmen of the 151 Air Refueling Wing at the Utah Air National Guard Base in Salt Lake, on Sunday March 13. Gen. Oaks spoke to Guard members about the importance of spirituality and service as part of the unit's annual Devotional.(U. S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Stegall)(RELEASED)

SALT LAKE CITY -- The third installment of the annual Chaplain's Devotional Series concluded March's Wingman Day celebrations with a devotional by Gen. Robert C. Oaks, retired commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, who also served as a General Authority for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

General Oaks started his military career in the Utah Army National Guard, digging foxholes in the ground at Camp Williams, he said.

"I started my military career in the Utah National Guard, with the field artillery and combat engineers down in Provo," he said. "I learned to dig foxholes in the rocky, hard, dry earth at Camp Williams. I learned early I didn't want to dig foxholes the rest of my life. So I went off to the Air Force Academy, went to flying school, and then spent 35 years flying my foxhole around the world. It's a better way to go."

General Oaks spent 34 years in the Air Force after graduating with the first class from the United States Air Force Academy. He served as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, and held many command positions, including Air Training Command, 86th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ramstein Air Base, and United States Air Forces in Europe. He also held key personnel staff positions at headquarters U.S. Air Force and the Pentagon.

General Oaks' talk drew on the fitness theme from the Wingman Day, saying that physical and mental fitness goes hand-in-hand with spiritual fitness.

"We all understand the important role of physical fitness, eating good food, and getting plenty of rest," said General Oaks. "What we take into our minds and our souls is every bit as important to our spiritual fitness as the kind of food we take into our bodies is for our physical fitness."

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Bruce Brewer, 151 ARW chaplain, said he felt the message of spiritual readiness was key in being prepared for whatever comes.

General Oaks first asked what spiritual fitness really means, and what it can do when applied in someone's life. He said spiritual fitness helps to meet and overcome spiritual difficulty, and will "replace uncertainty with faith and trust in God."

General Oaks also reminded Guardsmen that there needs to be a foundation of spiritual fitness, and suggested praying for help.

"A major source of spiritual fitness is the calm, heartfelt knowledge that our prayers are ascending up to god, and he hears them and will answer them," he said.

Chaplain Brewer said the annual devotional series is planned for the beginning of each year around February. He also said that the goal of the series is to bring in all faiths.

"Our goal is to bring in a prominent religious leader from the community to share a spiritual, inter-faith message that will make a difference on base," said Chaplain Brewer. "We hope to keep the tradition every year."

During the service, Lt. Col. Lisa Berente, 151st ARW chief of safety, offered the invocation, and Chaplain Brewer offered the benediction.

"I love the refueling mission," said General Oaks. "From Southeast Asia to South America, I've looked up the tailpipes of a lot of KC-135s. I love the National Guard."