A Mormon Chaplain
by Earl Beecher
Trafford Publishing

"Word of the disagreement between the Chaplain and the Colonel spread rapidly through the Battalion, then through the whole post. The odd result was that attendance at my chapel picked up markedly the next Sunday."

In perusing this book, the reader finds a fascinating take not only on being a Mormon Chaplain, but pursuing this calling in the midst of being drafted, and then working within the the military during the Korean War. Chaplain Beecher relates his story and the stories of others' in this 182 page book. There are 38 easy-to-read chapters regarding his experience: before going on active duty, active duty within the States and then in Korea, back Stateside, and the summary of his experiences. While unhappy about being drafted, Beecher makes the best of this situation, developing his calling within the Church and putting it to practical work within the military. It is an interesting juxtaposition of his religious beliefs, the religious beliefs of others, and the problems in working within the military system.

While Beecher notes that he never watched the television show M.A.S.H., so much of what he writes confirms the validity of the show. Fraught with stories of sadness, loss, and trauma, he relates stories of the goodness of people, and finding fun when possible despite the horrors of war. Teaching about the Church of Latter Day Saints and Biblical beliefs, as well as his openness to other belief systems and relating to the troops and the Korean natives, Beecher provides insight into the reality of a military existence. The growth he experiences in his own life, from a rather naive civilian to a compassionate chaplain, provides for an excellent read. From notifying families of the death of a loved one, to holding services in a foxhole, to learning about prostitution and black market sales, and helping orphans and others with humanitarian efforts, Beecher writes with a passion about his service and the compassion of others during this time, revealing the underlying human spirit in difficult times.


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