Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I began my life at an early age. From Saint Joseph hospital I was moved to the family homestead at Iron Lake in Manchester Township. Fortunately, my parents did not leave me at the hospital like they did for my later siblings.
Being the oldest of seven children, working on several farms, and having many relatives who were veterans, helped prepare me for the leadership needed in the Marines during the Vietnam War. Leadership requires organization, a bit of charisma(well, you can’t have everything), determination to see a task to completion and the ability to improvise on the fly as things change quickly in life: all qualities that were honed by a strong family that deeply loved each other and were committed to whatever it takes to succeed. For that I am eternally grateful.
While in Vietnam I served as Operations Chief for the 11th Marines, but spent most of the time with the Dark Horse Battalion (3/5), replacing forward observers as they were wounded, killed or otherwise removed from the field. Most of my unit were casualties and Memorial Day is the one time of the year that I deeply feel the loss of many friends, the effect it had on their families, and our comradeship built through sharing similar training and combat experiences. We also shared much more as we bonded over family pictures, stories and general joy associated with surviving the insanity of war.
Life after the Marines found me spending 13 years in college, seminary and grad school. The education and training prepared me in a unique way for the ministry. Pastoring from 1981-2001, chaplaincy from 1981 to the present, and being a member of many military organizations, and leadership in a few, has only solidified the calling God has placed in my heart for the hurting.
VVA and WACU are organizations that bond many of us with like passions and I am proud of the friendships that have and are developing on a regular basis.