Former Marine is Air Force chaplain

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Heather Stanton
  • 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
From being a Marine field radio operator in an infantry battalion to a civilian police officer to an Air Force chaplain at Holloman, Chaplain (Capt.) Paul Joyner has lived his adult life in a uniform.

"I left for Paris Island (Marine Corps boot camp in South Carolina) six weeks after I graduated high school," said Chaplain Joyner. That was in July of 1981.

Since then, he has also served in the Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and active-duty Air Force.

The first part of his career, he was a field radio operator and then cross trained in the Air Force Reserve to be a combat arms trainer and maintainer instructor.

While in the Reserve and Guard units, Chaplain Joyner went to school to become a pastor for a church in Spartburg, S.C., a few hours north of where he grew up. He was to graduate in December of 2001 and start his career as a civilian pastor when Sept. 11 happened. The events made the chaplain rethink his career plan.

"I thought, 'What is my part in this?'" said Chaplain Joyner. "The dean of my school had been an active-duty Army chaplain and he helped pave the way for what I'm doing now."

Chaplain Joyner said he has been in a uniform for so long in one way or another that it seemed like the right thing to do.

Chaplain Joyner believes his most recent deployment to Saudi Arabia, from December 2005 to May 2006, was the most rewarding and educational experience of his military career.

"We did tons of visitations, whenever we were needed," he said. "Lunchtime was busy; we would spend four hours in the dining facility talking to the folks. We boosted morale and let people know they were not in it alone."

Chaplain Joyner was deployed with Senior Airman Lewis Christopher, chaplain assistant, who maintained the chapel, kept track of all the volunteers for the services and stayed alert for the chaplain's protection and his own, even though they were not in a high threat area.

"Since Chaplain Joyner was prior enlisted, he could really relate to the enlisted personnel who were deployed with us," said Airman Christopher. "He made the deployment a lot of fun."

Also while deployed to Saudi Arabia, Chaplain Joyner met up with his old Marine battalion commander, (now) Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Pace re-enlisted the chaplain when he was a Marine.

When tallied up, Chaplain Joyner has served just less than 18 years in the military. Add his eight years as a police officer and that makes almost 26 years of uniformed service to the United States.

He has had a broad spectrum of experiences, from Marine life just out of high school to Air Force life talking to people as a chaplain.

"He (the Lord) prepares us for things He wants us to do," said the chaplain. The chaplain is doing just that.