USAFA Chaplain Receives 2011 Air Force Association Award
Capt. Chad Zielinski, a Catholic Chaplain at the US Air Force Academy, was presented the Air Force Association’s 2011 Chaplain Corps Award for outstanding performance by a member of the Air Force Chaplain Corps. Chaplain Zielinski was recognized for his work both at USAFA and Afghanistan.
Contrary some claims, Zielinski was one of many Chaplains on the front lines, serving the spiritual needs of US servicemembers:
While deployed, [Zielinski] provided spiritual support for 18 different forward operating bases and combat outposts, rode 11 air missions and 26 convoys and led 30 people to shelter when two of his services were interrupted by rocket fire. The chaplain also led distribution of support to more than 800 school children, 20 teachers and 500 other residents of Kherwar Village, building confidence in U.S. forces.
Back at the Academy, Zielinski was active with cadet Special Programs in Religious Education endeavors, leading several retreats and increasing cadet volunteer service.
SPIRE, of course, is the weekly chapel program in which cadets of virtually every religious ideology (including atheism) can gather to fellowship together. Though maligned by a critic, it remains one of the activities “vital to commanders’ support of individual Airmen’s needs and provide[s] opportunities for the free exercise of religion,” as the Air Force Chief of Staff recently said.