Holloman's Chapel innovations for Airmen

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gary Garvey
  • Chapel
Welcome one and all! Coffee anyone? The new High Ground Coffee House is now open and ready, offering hospitality to Airmen. The High Ground Coffee House or Airman's Ministry Center by another name is in the newly engineered Airmen's Activity/Community Center.

It began with a vision for excellence! Brig. Gen. David Goldfein, 49th Fighter Wing commander, had planned to build for Airmen "The Friendliest Place on Earth," a place always open ... always offering improved, exciting quality-of-life options. At the Nov. 30 grand opening, General Goldfein welcomed 200 attending participants, and heralded the new Airmen's Center innovations a "Touchdown for all Airman." 

I arrived in August and embraced the vision as leader of an already eager and pro-active chapel staff. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your people.

Chaplain (Maj.) Bryan Hochhalter and Staff Sgt. Tina Nelson were heavily enmeshed in the development of the new High Ground Coffee House. Together they had championed $17,000 from Air Staff, a lovely facility from Maj. Raymond Madrid, 49th Services Squadron commander, and with the significant help of 26 dedicated volunteers, completed the High Ground Airman's Ministry Center.

Airman Center chaplain, Capt. Matthew Boyd proudly stated, "Now Airman working shifts can enjoy chapel hospitality anytime they want. They can enjoy good times with good friends at the High Ground. They can relax with self-serve coffee, X-Box entertainment systems, large screen TVs and computers. A contract being written for a High Ground, Ministry Center Program Director to generate good airman programs at the Center." Chaplain Boyd, who enjoys meeting Airman and trying to out maneuver them on the X-Box competitions, said "I'm ready to take on all players."

"I hope this ministry brings some type of knowledge to Airmen," said Sergeant Nelson. "Since it is just for Airmen, it offers them a place to go and relax without worrying about NCOs or others watching them. We're not trying to push the Bible down their throats. Programs offered now are lunch time Bible studies with free pizza, and the occasional dinner for the Airmen."

There are plans to start having Airmen only Texas Hold 'em tournaments, as well as fellowship events directed towards Airmen.

Personnel care, next to God, is the primary mission of the Air Force Chaplain Service. Airmen deserve the best we can provide them. Since 1991 we have been engaged in the war on terrorism. The chapel is at the forefront of heightening unit morale with deployed Warrior Celebrations, Holloman Idol Competitions and now the High Ground Airman's Center. In addition to these sterling accomplishments the chapel was awarded $5,000 Air Staff funds to take care of family members of the deployed Airmen. Six lawn mowers were purchased and a team of volunteers will mow lawns at deployed members' houses and assist their spouses left behind with the yard work.

"I think we got this just right for our Airmen" said General Goldfein. "A center they can go to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year to relax and enjoy the company of their fellow Airmen. My thanks to the Airmen's Council and the chapel staff for investing their time and energy to make the Airman's Activity Center a success."