Langley chaplain assistant takes being a 'visual reminder of the holy' to heart

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kimberly Nagle
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
"I'll never forget you, Charles."

These words were written on a piece of paper by an injured U.S. Air Force Airman and handed to Staff Sgt. Charles Stamper as he sat at the patient's bedside while deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

The Airman, who was unable to speak due to his injuries, was undergoing a procedure that required him to stay awake. Stamper sat with the Airman and they exchanged notes in the brief moments between seizures. They passed these notes back and forth, slowly learning more about each other.

"[This moment] made me more determined to be the best chaplain assistant I can be," said Stamper.

Stamper, a 633rd Air Base Wing chaplain assistant, said he will cherish this experience.

Before he found his calling serving as a chaplain assistant, Stamper began his Air Force career more than 14 years ago at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., as a vehicle operator, joining the Air Force to provide for his family and better himself.

After more than nine years as a vehicle operator, he knew he wanted to do more while serving, so he decided to serve in a new way by cross-training into the chaplain assistant career field.

"[I wanted to] support my family and learn the discipline needed to have a successful life," he said. "While I joined the Air Force to be a well-rounded individual and a better provider for my family, I became a chaplain assistant to help my Air Force family."

As a chaplain assistant, Stamper manages events, handles chapel finances and supports unit morale, all in an effort to execute the chapel mission of being a 'visual reminder of the holy.'

Although Stamper has only spent a third of his career as a chaplain assistant, Tech. Sgt. Aaron Goodrum, 633rd Air Base Wing chapel resource management noncommissioned officer in charge, said Stamper's passion to serve his Air Force family makes him a model Airman.

"[Staff Sgt. Stamper] carries himself with a high level of integrity," Goodrum said. "He stays true to his spirituality and personal convictions."

Dedication to service helps Stamper execute his mission while at home station and deployed locations. Stamper said even though chaplain assistants perform the same duties as when they are stateside, Airmen are their main focus.

Although he had deployed previously as a vehicle operator, when Stamper deployed for the first time in his new career, he said it opened his eyes to the depth and diversity of military missions.

"[When comparing deployments], it was like a different world in the Air Force," said Stamper.

While deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Stamper partnered with a Canadian soldier to gather and deliver supplies and toys for Afghan school children. Through the Langley Chapel and the members of the surrounding deployed airfield, Stamper and the soldier gathered more than 5,000 pounds of goods.

"The looks on [the children's] faces were just amazing," said Stamper. "It showed them the military was there for more than just defense - it showed we cared."

Stamper said had he not been deployed as a chaplain assistant, he may not have had these opportunities to serve in that capacity, which reaffirmed his decision to cross-train.

"You have to be passionate about what you do," said Stamper.

According to Goodrum, Stamper's passion can be seen in his efforts to take care of those around him.

"As a member of the chapel corps, it is inspiring to work with someone whose spirituality drives their life," said Goodrum. "He is truly a 'visual reminder of the holy.'"

Whether home or abroad, helping his family or his Air Force family, Stamper will continue to stay dedicated to his service.