USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC/JCC-20) -- The Chaplain of the Marine Corps visited Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa personnel and the ship's crew here Dec. 31. The task force is in the region to aid in the global war against terrorism.
Rear Adm. Louis V. Iasiello, 14th Chaplain of the Marine Corps and Deputy Chief Chaplain of the Navy, is visiting Marines in Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and finally Djibouti.
"My job is to ensure the spiritual and personal needs of Marines are taken care of, and assisting commanders in ensuring they are taken care of," said Iasiello, native of Staten Island, N.Y.
"I feel it is important to visit as many people as possible to let them know how much they are appreciated," said Jasiello. "A lot of them remember me and I don't always remember their names, but I never forget faces."
Personal visits to the troops such as this one, that include lunch with them, catholic mass and the evening prayer, gives him much more knowledge about their needs, as opposed to sitting in an office and letting others do it for him.
"You cannot just write sermons and pray in the chapel, you have to be active in the sand, on the deck plates, bringing words of comfort and assurance," said Capt. Donald F. Lerow, chaplain for CJTF-HOA. "His visits also helps chaplains who are on station with the troops to understand what we should be doing everyday."
According to Lerow, visits such as this one raise awareness of the mission, the reason for being here and reminds us God is with us and loves us.
This was just one of Iasiello's many stops this year to visit with service members. Last year he traveled approximately 150,000 miles spending time with Marines in Panama, 2d and 8th Marine Regiments and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
"Even in hostile territories Marines need to remember that their fighting is bringing light into the world," he said recalling trips to Afghanistan and Bahrain. "You are giving hope to others."
Jasiello, who's term as 14th Chaplain of the Marine Corps ends in August, will visit Marines in Qatar, Kuwait and England before returning to Washington.
When asked what he would say if he had the attention of every member of CJTF-HOA for just a second, he calmly stated: "The service members here have been given an incredible mandate by the American people to check the forces of darkness and to bring justice and peace to the world. Know you are loved. Know you are respected, and years from now you can look back and say you served in a time of need."