Chaplain, unit cope with loss

Story and Photo by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) Public Affairs

VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq — For Soldiers in combat zones it can be difficult dealing with the loss of a teammate, but one chaplain here at Victory Base in Baghdad is helping his troops through a ministry of presence.

Capt. Shane Yates, the chaplain with the 41st Special Troops Battalion, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary), said being with his Soldiers is the most important aspect of being a chaplain.

Yates said he routinely prays with his Soldiers prior to convoys. However, sometimes God has other plans which no one can prepare for, he said.

Two Soldiers from the 41st STB died in Rashid, Iraq Aug. 28, when their convoy was hit by an explosive device.

A third Soldier was wounded and evacuated to Germany.

The 41st STB, part of the Oregon National Guard, held a memorial ceremony Sept. 2 at Hope Chapel here at VBC for Sgt. Mark D. Werner and Pfc. Taylor D. Marks.  

“I believe that the memorial service is important for some sense of closure for the Soldiers,” said Yates. “It also allows them time to reflect on our fallen heroes and honor them appropriately.”

The convoy started like any other, and though Yates unknowingly chose to talk to Werner personally beforehand, no one knew that night would change their lives.

“I had prayed for this convoy prior to them leaving the wire, and I shook hands with Sgt. Werner and attempted to give him a sense of calm and comfort,” said Yates.  

After hearing of the incident, Yates said he was able to be on the flight line as the wounded Soldier was brought in by a medical evacuation helicopter.

“I also had the blessing of being there with (the wounded Soldier) while they worked on his injuries,” Yates said. “I prayed with him and stayed by him; it was an honor.”

Though the memorial ceremony was emotional, Yates said the unit is trying to look forward.

“The next step for our unit is to drive on and fulfill our mission here in Iraq,” he said. “I will closely watch the unit most affected by this tragedy and provide ministry of presence to them as much as I can.”

Though the chaplain’s duty is to provide support for his troops, his own health is important, as well.

“I believe that in order to cope with this, I will spend some alone time with God,” said Yates.

“It is such a privilege to be a chaplain and spend time with these warriors,” he said. “They humble me.”

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Capt. Shane Yates, chaplain, 41st Special Troops Battalion, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary), pays his respects during a Sept. 2 memorial ceremony for Sgt. Mark D. Werner and Pfc. Taylor D. Marks at Hope Chapel here in Baghdad's Victory Base Complex. Werner and Marks died Aug. 28 in Rashid, Iraq, when their convoy was hit by an explosive device.

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Capt. Shane Yates, chaplain, 41st Special Troops Battalion, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary), pays his respects during a Sept. 2 memorial ceremony for Sgt. Mark D. Werner and Pfc. Taylor D. Marks at Hope Chapel here in Baghdad's Victory Base Complex. Werner and Marks died Aug. 28 in Rashid, Iraq, when their convoy was hit by an explosive device.

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A lone trumpeter plays Taps during a Sept. 2 memorial ceremony for Sgt. Mark D. Werner and Pfc. Taylor D. Marks, 41st Special Troops Battalion, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary), at Hope Chapel here in Baghdad's Victory Base Complex. Werner and Marks died Aug. 28 in Rashid, Iraq, when their convoy was hit by an explosive device.

 

news photo
The 41st Special Troops Battalion, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary), held a memorial ceremony Sept. 2 at Hope Chapel here at Victory Base Complex, Iraq, to honor Sgt. Mark D. Werner and Pfc. Taylor D. Marks, who died Aug. 28 in Rashid, Iraq when their convoy was hit by an explosive device.

news photo
The honor guard stands at attention after firing a salute during the 41st Special Troops Battalion, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expenditionary) memorial ceremony Sept. 2 at Hope Chapel here at Victory Base Complex, Iraq, to honor Sgt. Mark D. Werner and Pfc. Taylor D. Marks, who died Aug. 28 in Rashid, Iraq, when their convoy was hit by an explosive device.