CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- The Chief of Navy Chaplains visited service members supporting Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa here during his first visit of many visits with troops to learn more about their missions.
“There’s so many people to visit and things to see because of the many great things being done here,” said Navy Rear Admiral Louis V. Iasiello.
Celebrating mass with the troops is one of the biggest reasons he visited here, said Navy Cmdr. Jack Lea, CJTF-HOA chaplain.
“Admiral Iasiello celebrated mass twice, once with the bishop for Djibouti and Somalia,” continued the Norfolk, Va. native.
Iasiello also visited a children’s orphanage where CJTF-HOA service members volunteer their time to see what projects are being done through the chaplain’s office. He also spent time with the chaplains and religious program specialists here to provide guidance.
“The projects that are being done, like the orphanage outings, have come a long ways since the last time I was here,” said Iasiello.
Since his last visit in May, the programs and services within the chaplain’s office have quadrupled, said Navy Cmdr. Charles R. Roots, command chaplain for Marine Central Command, Djibouti.
“He was very pleased of what he saw,” said Roots. “I also think he realized that all the great things done here is not our doing, it’s God’s.”
He was very impressed about how much the quality of life has improved in last seven months. One of the biggest improvements was the building of the chapel here.
“The chapel is great, especially with all the Christmas lights hanging up,” said Iasiello. “It really helps to bring the holidays to the troops.”
The chapel was dedicated on May 23, but was completed in time for Easter mass on April 20. Since its dedication, service participation has gone up significantly, said Roots.
“Admiral Iasiello's visit to Camp Lemonier was an inspirational reminder of this holy season of Christmas, said Lt. Col. Mark J. Bourdon, former Staff Judge Advocate of CJTF-HOA and participant of mass held by Iasiello. “His visit was a tremendous morale boost especially since our thoughts naturally turn homeward this time of year.”
Iasiello continues on his tour of the region to meet with troops in other places including Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq and Afghanistan. His next stop after CJTF-HOA was Iraq, where he spent Christmas with the troops.
Lea ended by saying, “Admiral Iasiello’s visit here was a reminder of the support we have from the Navy, Marine Corps and the people of America in our part with the global war on terrorism.”