YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Capt. David Horton (right), 374th Airlift Wing chaplain, welcomes Jonathan Richardson and his grandchildren to the Traditional Chapel for Sunday worship service at Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 26, 2011. As a chaplain, Captain Horton is responsible for providing members of the Yokota community with the opportunity to practice the religion of their choice. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Capt. David Horton, 374th Airlift Wing chaplain, provides opening prayer during a Sunday worship service, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 26, 2011. Chaplain Horton has been a minister for more than 10 years. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca)
by Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
6/28/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- "He's not your typical chaplain. He was an enlisted Navy nuclear submariner, for goodness sake," said Lt. Col. John Lapore, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. "His background gives him a connection with our Airmen and understanding of their challenges rarely seen in the officer or chaplain corps."
Captain David Horton, a Protestant chaplain at Yokota Air Base, is not someone you think of when you hear the word "chaplain."
Coming with his own diverse background, the chaplain enlisted in both the Army and Navy before joining his family's preferred choice of military branch, the Air Force.
Beginning his military career at the age of 17 as an Army National Guard infantry soldier, the now chaplain, dug ditches and outhouses and stood watch for countless hours all while attending college.
After three years of school and service in the guard, young Pfc. Horton left the Georgia National Guard to pursue a career in the Navy as a machinist mate second class submarine service submariner on a nuclear-powered submarine.
After five years of traveling the world submerged more than 800 feet under water, the more experienced Petty Officer 2nd Class Horton left life as a sailor to become a minister.
"I was a pastor for about seven years before I became an Airman," said Capt. Horton. "After 9/11 happened I had a lot of the youth from my parish going into the service and so I prayed about it and felt that I could do good by going back to the service and helping take care of the young Airman and their families, based on the experience I had from my previous time in service."
Chaplain Horton explained that the military defines a chaplain as a specialty officer with the main purpose to provide for the free exercise of religion that is guaranteed in the Constitution.
"Regardless of what your faith background, it is our job to give you the opportunity to practice it. Each chaplain is endorsed by their own particular religious background," he said.
Not only do chaplains help servicemembers and their families practice their faiths, it is part of their responsibilities to provide counsel for anyone who seeks it out.
"We don't really tell anybody no, we take the time to listen and try to give them good advice," said Chaplain Horton. "Whether someone is trying to learn more about their own faith or someone is just having a problem or struggling with something, they can come talk to us and its perfectly safe."
Colonel Lapore described Chaplain Horton as a genuine outspoken individual.
"What you see is what you get with Chaplain Horton. He's serious about caring for our spiritual needs but is also very aware of the realities of our business," he said. "He'll reach out a hand to help someone who's down but won't hesitate to tell someone they're being a knucklehead if that is what is needed."
The colonel added, "He's a great guy, quick with a joke or story, who has a lot of insight, counsel, and friendship to offer to all of us. He's easy to approach and talk to about whatever's on your mind."
"You can't snowball Chaplain Horton, with his background, chances are, he's been in worse pickles than many of us can imagine. That makes him a great sounding board and advocate for our Airmen."
7/6/2011 11:17:39 AM ET I agree. Chaplain Horton links scripture with practical living in his sermons. With his wife and his son by his side this family is an inspiring spiritual force to the Yokota Community. A true blessing.