New chaplain offers thoughts in Q&A
By SSgt. Christiana Elieson, 151st ARW/PA
/ Published April 22, 2008
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Maj. Greg Clark has flown as a pilot with the Utah Air National Guard in the past, but his return marks a bit different flight path with his acceptance of a chaplain position. Major Clark took a few moments out of his day to talk about himself and why he chose his new AFSC.
Q: First off, tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: For the first 10 years of my life, I was a non military-brat vagabond. I finally wound up in Vernal, Utah, for sixth through 12th grade.
In high school I learned about the Air Force Academy and caught this crazy vision of a whole new life: tough but strong education and military training, seeing even more of the world, and both jumping out of and flying airplanes.
After the academy, I flew KC-135Rs, and then did an instructor tour in the T-1A trainer. Along the way, I learned about the Utah Air National Guard and couldn't wait to get out of active duty and put roots down in the Salt Lake area--I saw it as being able to do everything I loved on active duty without so much of the instability and uncertainty. I started flying for the 191st Air Refueling Squadron here in 1998.
Now, to pay the bills, I fly full-time for American Airlines. I am currently based out of St. Louis as a first officer on the MD-80.
I've got a great and patient wife named Amy who is expecting a new little man child in July, bringing my offspring tally to five boys: Ethan, Christian, Isaac, Eli, and our pending
new arrival, probably to be named Jonas (Isaac keeps telling us he wants a brother named Joe).
Q: What made you want to become a chaplain in the first place?
A: Anyone will have a hard time finding a military chaplain who did not feel a very strong, often inexplicable "call" to chaplain service, and the same goes for me. During my active duty years, I picked up a graduate degree in counseling, and when I met Utah ANG Chaplain Cless Young during my early years flying for the 191st Air Refueling Squadron, I was touched with a crazy idea that I needed to better put that counseling degree to work in serving my buddies in the military. This impression only grew stronger until I finally signed up for graduate theological studies with Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in order to complete all of the educational requirements to become a chaplain.
Q: What are your goals for your new position?
A: As a chaplain, I am here to passionately preserve everyone's First Amendment rights, but probably more than anything,
I want to get to know as many members of the Utah ANG as I possibly can. It is my vision that every Airman not only know their chaplains by name, but feels truly comfortable in coming to us in times of need--any kind of need.
Q: What is the biggest change for you going from a pilot to chaplain with the same wing?
A: In October 2006, I started chaplain service as newcomer to the 124th Wing of the Idaho ANG in Boise, Idaho. But returning home to the same wing where I flew for the Guard for over four years is absolutely the best. At the 151st Air Refueling Wing, I feel like I've come back to my own family and can hit the ground running--I still know a few folks. The biggest change is that as a mid-career pilot in the Guard, I worked mainly with the great people in operations, but now as a chaplain I can expand my horizons to working with and serving all of the people who work on our base.
Q: What do you want everyone to know about you?
A: I am not here as a chaplain to put myself forward as someone who is perfect and without flaw--I have weaknesses, quirks, and a sometimes irreverent
sense of humor of which I am trying to repent. (Ask many of the 191st pilots who flew with me.) But I sincerely love all of my brothers and sisters in arms, and am here to do anything and everything I can to serve them, support them and recognize them for their and their families' efforts and sacrifice.