Airman Follows in Father’s Footsteps

2nd Lt Aaron Reynolds, right, is doing an internship in the 167th Chapel Section, following in the footsteps of his father, Major David Reynolds, 167th Airlift Wing Chaplain. Reynolds was a member of the 167th Airlift Wing, but has transferred to the Air Reserves to participate in the chaplain candidate program. (U.S. Air Force photo by MSgt Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

2nd Lt Aaron Reynolds, right, is doing an internship in the 167th Chapel Section, following in the footsteps of his father, Major David Reynolds, 167th Airlift Wing Chaplain. Reynolds was a member of the 167th Airlift Wing, but has transferred to the Air Reserves to participate in the chaplain candidate program. (U.S. Air Force photo by MSgt Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

Martinsburg -- 2nd Lt. Aaron Reynolds is no stranger to the 167th Airlift Wing.

After enlisting in the West Virginia Air National Guard in October 2001, Lt. Reynolds was assigned as a cardiopulmonary technician in the base's medical clinic.

But now he's aiming to put his heart into another career. One that follows his father's footsteps: Maj. David Reynolds, chaplain for the 167th Airlift Wing.

Reynolds, 28, is doing a two-year internship in the base's chapel section for his seminary/chaplain candidate program. Although a member of the 167th Airlift Wing for six years, he transferred to the Air Force Reserves for the chaplain candidate program. As a chaplain candidate, he is currently a second lieutenant.

After earning a degree from Mountain State University, the Sabillasville, Md., resident is currently a student at the Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. He works as a part time respiratory therapist at Waynesboro Hospital in Pennsylvania.

Asked whether his father was an inspiration in his decision to become a chaplain, Lt. Reynolds replied: "Absolutely!"

"I could not have asked for a better set of parents. They have always been a great encouragement to me, and the greatest example of selfless living that I have encountered," he said. "My father would definitely not push me in the direction of ministry; he would always say ... 'Aaron, it doesn't matter what you do, your mother and I are proud of you.' And then he would always encourage me to keep the Lord first in my life."

"The chaplain candidate program is an excellent way for future chaplains to be able to check out the Reserve and active duty aspects of chaplaincy, and then be able to make an informed decision as to which path - the Guard, Reserve or Active Duty to pursue," Aaron said.

The chaplain candidate program entails one summer of commissioned officer training and then a two-week introductory course. Aaron completed his first summer of training last July. He'll spend two future summers of active duty visiting different bases and ministries within the United States Air Force.

"For my next summer of training, I will most likely be going to Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland (Air Force Base) to work on clinical pastoral education," he said.

In order to participate in the chaplain candidate program, one must have earned a bachelor's degree, be attending an accredited seminary full time and have an ecclesiastical endorsement from one's governing church body.

As a chaplain, Lt. Reynolds will eventually be called upon to conduct worship services, give invocations and lend an ear when counseling is needed. He'll also be able to perform wedding when requested.

"If you have a heart that wants to serve, then chaplaincy could be a good fit," he said of why he might encourage others to enroll in the program.

"What better way to serve God and your fellow man then to be a chaplain in the Armed Services?"

"The West Virginia Air National Guard has been a great asset in my life," he said. "The Guard has continued to give me opportunities in my education and ministry that I could not have had without them. I am continually grateful for those who have come before me and paved the way."