DVIDS – News – The Chapel of Enduring Liberty Welcomes Chaplain Shang



CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (May 13, 2022) The Chapel of Enduring Freedom at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (CLDJ), recently welcomed its new chaplain, U.S. Navy Reserve Lt. Richard Shang, a reserve sailor from San Jose, in California.

On his first deployment as a member of the Naval Reserve, Lt. Shang wants all CLDJ residents, regardless of their religious beliefs, to know that the chapel is open to them.

“My goal here is to provide spiritual and emotional support, as well as religious services,” Shang said. “It’s across the spectrum. Christian, Muslim, Jew, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, or any other denomination, if a Seaman or any other service member has a need, we will provide it ourselves, or help find a connection and resources to this particular individual.”

Chaplaincy services are not just for religious purposes. Chaplains also provide free, confidential counselling. The Navy places great importance on mental health. It is important for service members to have an outlet to reduce their stress levels and remain emotionally and physically mission ready.

“Even though we are here where we have a big family,” Shang said. “We still have a lot to do, whether it’s a job in the United States or our family members, we probably encounter difficulties or challenges from time to time. We also do a lot of consulting. Advice is one hundred percent confidential. Everyone is welcome, and they don’t have to worry about everything they’ve said coming out of the walls.

May is recognized as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Lt. Shang believes this is an important time to reflect on the contributions they have made to the history of the United States

“It is very important to raise awareness of the different heritages of this great country of ours,” Shang said. “A lot of people don’t know that in the 19th century a lot of Chinese workers came to the United States to build the railroads, and it was a big business. In World War II, there were second and third generation Japanese who fought in Italy and in the European theater, and they had done a tremendous job. One of our destroyers, the Chung-Hoon, was named after a Chinese-born captain who served in World War II in the Pacific theater. It’s an important part of the story, but few people know it.

Shang himself is an immigrant from Taiwan. His own experiences inspired his journey to join the United States Navy.

“Taiwan had a policy years ago that all healthy men had to serve two years of compulsory service in the military branches,” Shang said. “I was selected to be an army soldier and was stationed on a small island called Kinmen. The island is only a few kilometers from the Chinese coast, and during our first presidential election free in 1996, the Chinese government launched a test missile on the north and south sides of the Taiwan Strait trying to intimidate us to stop us from holding this free election. They didn’t like the idea at all. During these two weeks I was stationed on the island and things got very, very tense. There were swarms of boats off the coast. Helicopters would be doing their aerial exercises overhead. I felt for the first time war was so close.
I would stay in a foxhole pretty much all day. It was as if at any moment, anything could happen. That intensity was a really tough time for me.

In response to what is now known as the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, the US government staged the largest show of military might in Asia since the Vietnam War.

“During the crisis, the United States sent two carrier strike groups,” Shang said. “It’s a position taken by the United States. The clear message was sent to the Chinese government, and eventually they backed down. Because of that, because the 7th Fleet was protecting Taiwan, I think all those memories and my personal story made me decide to join the Navy. I sincerely believe that our military presence is a great force for stability around the world. We literally do the world’s peacekeeping project. I literally feel that’s true, because that’s what I’ve been through.

Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti serves as an expeditionary base for U.S. military forces providing support to ships, aircraft, and personnel that provide security and stability throughout Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia. The Department of Defense supports our African partners in building capacity, strengthening defense institutions, and supporting a whole-of-government approach in the region so that diplomatic and development solutions can take root.

Date taken: 13.05.2022
Date posted: 18.05.2022 02:58
Story ID: 420953
Location: dj
Hometown: SAN JOSE, CA, USA

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