Where did I give the most important sermon of my life? On a roadside on the outskirts of Al Kut, in Iraq.
My chapel was a muddy field. The congregation was of a handful of Marines. This particular sermon was so critical because it was delivered during the opening weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We were all tired, hungry and anxious about what was going to happen in the next hour, day, week.
As a Navy Chaplain, you're acutely aware of how important your words are to your Marines. Each word you utter as a Chaplain is a link to hope. Each phrase is an anchor to home. Each sentence is a connection to their faith and God.
It wasn't a large congregation; we didn't have a fancy building, a choir or even enough prayer books…but I wouldn't have traded places with any other clergyman in the world.
Chaplain Irv Elson, U.S. Navy
Rabbi Irving Elson, CAPT, CHC, USN
Chaplain Elson was ordained a rabbi in 1987 and came on Active Duty in June of that year. He has served the spiritual needs of Sailors and Marines in Japan, Italy, Kuwait, Iraq and various locations throughout the United States. He is currently one of eight rabbis serving in the Navy Chaplain Corps.
Chaplain Elson has been married for 21 years and has three children.