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A warrior chaplain: 2/75 Ranger serves God, country

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There is a theology of combat.

At a recent 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment award ceremony, the unit's chaplain said during the invocation, "You are used by Him to fulfill the mission on earth to rid the world of evil."

That Protestant chaplain is Capt. John McDougall, and he is a warrior for God.

"God combats evil; God is a warrior," McDougall said as we talked recently at the McChord Field Officers' Club. "Rangers fill this purpose; we remove evil from the world. We are on God's side."

A West Point graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, McDougall initially did not give much thought to serving as a man of the cloth.

"I've always been a person of faith, but I had never given it much thought," he explained.

That is until his wife, Bree, began asking - and repeating - a simple question.

A well-educated and perceptive woman and mother, Bree believes that Army wives are a sisterhood, and that her life experiences have prepared her to serve as her husband does.

"This is a team effort," she said.  "I can't imagine doing anything else."

She also understood her husband's feelings about serving God.

"Are you sure you should not be a minister?" she would ask him occasionally.

He could not easily answer the question. McDougall was not sure if he should serve God. 

"I told myself that I was supposed to be a Soldier," he related.

Then McDougall heard from Him.

"I was in Kirkuk (Iraq). It was 17 November 2003; I was shaving," he said. "I heard that a chaplain is a Soldier and a pastor."

Understanding the logic of the divine reasoning and the fact that he could not escape what he heard, McDougall contacted his wife to tell her about His call.

"It's about time you recognize God's gifts in your life," she told him.

Three years of seminary followed, and in short order the McDougalls found themselves at Fort Bragg, N.C.

"I was serving in an airborne infantry unit with a Ranger for a commander," McDougall said.  "He prodded me to think about serving with a Ranger battalion."

The encouragement became a reality.

Originally slated to serve with 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in Savannah, Ga., the McDougalls swapped their assignment to 1/75 with the chaplain scheduled to serve with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

"We wanted to come here to the Northwest; the other chaplain wanted to remain in Georgia," McDougall said.

As the McDougalls prepared to depart from our meeting, he turned and said, "We remove evil for the world; we're on God's side.  If we don't do this, we are not on His side."

God and His Rangers lead the way.

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