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Air Force chaplain offers comfort at Pentagon

WASHINGTON (BP)–Sept. 11 was Chaplain Capt. Jason Peters’ day off. He was at home — across the river from the Pentagon — watching the news of the attack in New York on TV. Then he looked out his window.

“I saw the explosion at the Pentagon,” the 1998 Midwestern graduate said. “I saw the orange fireball and then it turned into thick black smoke. I knew I was going to have to respond, so I started getting into uniform.”

Peters, who is a chaplain for the Air Force, is assigned to the 11th wing of the Pentagon, which supports all Air Force activities in the Washington area. His first response was to report to Bolling Air Force Base for a meeting of a disaster control group, which included representatives from all emergency agencies. That night, he reported to the crash site to minister to people.

“As chaplains, we are responsible for critical incidence stress management,” he said. “Essentially, we were trying to intervene and mitigate stress people feel when something like this happens. That’s the main thrust for chaplains — the ministry.”

At the same time he was ministering, Peters also said he felt like the whole scene was surrealistic.

“In the midst of all that was going on, I experienced God’s grace,” he said. “God gave me the comfort and security to know that it was going to be OK.”

Since the attack, he and another chaplain have started a 15-minute prayer time in the Pentagon auditorium. Up to 15 staff members usually attend. Many employees are coping with their sense of security.

“Here we are working in what’s probably the strongest military fortress in the world, and all of a sudden, we’re attacked, and people we hold dear are gone.”

One of those people was a man who left behind a widow and three children. Peters accompanied that family to the Pentagon memorial service where President Bush spoke.

“I went through the whole day with them,” he said. “I sat with them, and I comforted that young widow while she cried…She was a Christian, and I could see a difference in her hope level. She told me that at her husband’s personal funeral service, people came to know the Lord.

“We never know how the Lord is going to use this to glorify Himself.”
Peters, a native of Sacramento, Calif., currently is attending squadron officer’s school at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. He and his wife, Kimberly, have two children.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JASON PETERS.

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  • Stacey Hamby