Holloman Base Chapel: Servants First

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Daniel Liddicoet
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
The Holloman AFB chapel provides a valuable outlet for Airmen and their families to strengthen their mental fortitude. As the spiritual backbone of the base, the chapel offers a resource that is unique in its capabilities to offer confidential support. The chaplains themselves have years of experience and training that allows them to adapt to even the most complex issues.

The chaplains and chaplains' assistants form a spiritual support team that operates on the frontlines of emotional and mental trauma.

Lieutenant Col. Hector Coloncolon, 49th Wing head chaplain, is one of the newest additions to the chapel. Coloncolon brings with him more than 16 years of experience, largely overseas, that serves to broaden the collective perspective of the chapel's team.

"I'm happy to be back in the United States, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve here," said Coloncolon. "I've learned from my time overseas how important the structure of our chapel is. The integration across ranks that we're able to achieve is incredible compared to what most foreign chapels can do."

A large reason for the success of the chapel's structure hinges on the chaplains' assistants effectiveness at assessing where help is required across the base, and directing people in need to the correct support outlets.

"Our role is about co-laboring towards the same mission as the chaplains," said Tech. Sgt. Darrell Williams, 49th Wing chaplains' assistant. "We vector support to the right entities to ensure that everyone's needs are met. We're often able to triage until in-depth help can be sought from the chaplains."

Trust is another crucial ingredient in the relationship between chaplains and chaplains' assistants.

As Maj. John Von Almen, 49th Wing chaplain, explained, "I'm always confident that if my chaplains' assistant is waking me up in the middle of the night for something he's prioritized as an emergency, that it truly is of an urgent nature. A foundation of trust is required for us to operate seamlessly together, especially in deployed environments."

Another part of what makes the chapel so extraordinary is their 100 percent confidentiality policy. Meaning that regardless of how sensitive the information is that's disclosed to them, each chaplain is bound to keep the contents of their counseling sessions safe.

According to Von Almen, "Prior to 2008, no organization in the entire Department of Defense except the Air Force was able to maintain 100 percent confidentiality. The Air Force led the way for the other branches to adopt the same kind of policy."

Beyond their tradition of confidentiality, the chaplains pride themselves on their capacity for religious tolerance.

"Our goal is to broaden our ministry. We always appreciate dedicated lay leaders that can act as liaisons to other schools of faith we may not be able to offer," said Von Almen. "I feel that I'm defending my own right to freedom of religion by making an effort to facilitate other faiths in any way I can."

Servitude is the overarching theme that runs fluidly through everyone that works in the chapel. The chaplains and chaplains' assistants tirelessly work to prioritize the spiritual needs of all Holloman AFB Airmen with everything they do.

As Coloncolon puts it, "I project myself as a servant first, and that goes beyond any rank I'll ever wear."