Fort Hood chaplains and chaplain assistants prayed for peace, the fallen and wounded, families and the nation Feb. 19 at the Fort Hood National Prayer Breakfast. More than 400 other Fort Hood soldiers and family members joined in prayer and found camaraderie among those at the annual gathering.
Held at the Phantom Warrior Center on Fort Hood, soldiers and families packed the room for a hot, catered breakfast while a keynote speaker discussed spiritual resiliency in combat.
Master Sgt. Eddy Ford of the 89th Military Police Brigade told of how his faith has been tested in combat, while at the same time how those tests have made him a more spiritual man and soldier.
With multiple combat tours to Iraq, Ford captivated the audience as he relived some of those experiences of near death or losing friends to war. Recalling serving under Gen. David Petraeus in the 101st Airborne Division, Ford said that “everyone has fear. … It may not be the fear of your own death, it could be the fear of the unknown or losing one of your soldiers.”
He described being one of two soldiers from his unit with the 101st being selected to go on four days of R&R to Qatar after several months of combat. He was excited to be selected to be on a helicopter to Mosul in Iraq that would transfer soldiers to Qatar, but a last minute change gave those seats to another unit.
Disappointed, he did what any soldier would do; he sucked it up and returned to work.
But an hour later, Ford received word that the helicopter he should have been on had gone down over Mosul and there were no survivors.
“I remember immediately thanking God that I wasn’t on that flight, and then I realized that some other soldier just died in my place. The guilt was crushing. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have control over the circumstances. I’d found a way to chastise myself for thanking God that someone else had died in my place. I had to tell myself that resiliency comes from not always being safe, but by recognizing divine guidance. It’s not about me.”
Ford said “in combat, it’s been my experience that you can see what God does. You can actually see Him working.”
These experiences, Ford shared, have changed him for the better because he let them, and he encouraged the soldiers present to use their combat experiences for good, to motivate them with the realization that God has destined them for good.
The annual Fort Hood Prayer Breakfast acts as a vehicle for soldiers and their families to share their faith, struggles and doubts in an environment of camaraderie, as well as to pray for the nation and wisdom for those in command.