It is difficult to compare any other career requiring a deeper understanding of humility and service than that of a military chaplain.
Putting others before themselves is more than a select set of core ethos, it’s a literal job requirement. Not only do chaplains commit their service to a denominational higher-power, they honor an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and preserve the religious freedoms of service members regardless of their religious alignment.
When so much of oneself is devoted to serving others it can be easy to lose track of personal accomplishments, so when a chaplain from the 70th Wing first heard the news he would be awarded the Air Force ISR Agency’s Edwin R. Chess Award for outstanding company grade chaplain, he admitted it was much to his surprise.
“I have to be honest, the news did come with a shock,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Ronald Feeser, from the 70th Wing Chapel office. “I’m just grateful that it shows we are making a difference in the lives of Airmen and we’re having a real effect.”
The Edwin R. Chess Award, named after the Air Force’s Chief of Chaplains from 1966 until 1970, is awarded to officers who best display the USAF Chaplain Corps values of glorifying God, serving Airmen and pursuing excellence. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Bill Burrell, 70th ISR Wing chaplain, recognized the work Feeser had done for the Wing and sent a submission package to AFISRA Jan. 1.
Burrell praised Feeser by writing that his “professionalism, leadership and care for the Wing’s Airmen has touched and changed countless lives” and “Feeser is an outstanding chaplain and officer.”
Feeser discovered he had won the award Feb. 21.
“I could hear Chaplain Burrell talking on the phone in the other office and at one point in the conversation he asked, ‘how would you like to talk to the best Chaplain in the Air Force?'” Feeser said, recounting how he had come to learn the news. “[Burrell] is always making jokes and motivating us by saying we’re the best chaplains the Air Force has to offer, but I thought there was something a little different in the way he was going about it now. Then that of course was when he came in to tell me I won.”
This award may just show that Burrell’s jokes weren’t too far off.
Feeser’s focus and commitment to his ministry is why Burrell submitted him and was the least surprised he was successful. Burrell said he feels Feeser was called to ministry describing his character as dynamic and proactive, words he said he doesn’t use lightly. He noticed Feeser is constantly diligent in the time they’ve been working together, saying he actively prevents issues and spends extra time with Airmen to determine and meet their emotional needs.
Feeser’s selection put him at the top of his MAJCOM and the next level of competition is the Air Force.
When discussing the potential win at the Air Force level, Feeser simply said it’s not about him.
“I hope it all reflects well but the comparison is apples and oranges,” Feeser said. “Wings are different and I think we do good work here. Whether we win has little impact on what we do for our Airmen. I feel blessed to work with such a great staff and it’s awesome to have a team who motivates the ministry forward.”
Feeser is the son of Ronnie and Debbie Feeser of Drew County.
Story and photo courtesy of:
Airman 1st Class Samuel Daub
70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, Public Affairs