Chapel team recognized with double awards

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nestor Cruz
  • 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
There’s a special team of Luke AFB Airmen committed to ensuring everyone’s spiritual needs are met, fulfilling one of the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

Now, that team has earned recognition at the major command level for their selfless work.

The four-member team comprising the 944th Fighter Wing chapel staff recently earned two out of a possible three Air Force Reserve Command Chaplain Corps Awards for 2016: the Readiness Award and the Outstanding Chaplain Corps Program Award.

“I had high hopes for earning just one award this year, so I was shocked when I heard we earned two,” said Tech. Sgt. Elliot Denney, 944 FW chaplain assistant.

For the Readiness Award, the team was recognized for organizing the Fighter Wing Staff Agencies Wingman Day, ensuring the unit met the training requirement for suicide prevention training. The chapel staff also led two Yellow Ribbon events by facilitating training for approximately 1,000 Reservist and their family members. Additionally, they collaborated with a Navy tenant unit to provide spiritual care for approximately 400 Marines.

The AFRC Outstanding Chaplain Corps Program Award was given to the Luke team for their tireless efforts both on and off base. The chapel staff designed a family retreat, impacting the lives of 60 Citizen Airmen and their families and provided spiritual care to Airmen with the 944th Logistics Readiness Squadron during their annual tour. The chapel team also implemented a Native American scholarship program, helping to raise $20,000 and enabling more than 80 students to attend a youth camp for the first time.

Chaplain (Capt.) David Kreis, 944 FW chaplain, crafted the award packages sent to MAJCOM and gave credit to Chaplain (Capt.) Matt Wilson, 944 FW chaplain, and their pair of chaplain assistants.
“It’s not just what we do for the unit but also the local community activities, especially the volunteer work of Chaplain Wilson and Staff Sgt. Brianna Creveling,” said Kreis. “We already had all the bullets, so I didn’t really have to do a whole lot. I just needed to organize them and send them in.”

Denney, who recently returned from a six-month deployment, gives credit to Kreis for enabling him to perform backfills around the world.

“Chaplain Kreis enables us to do what we do, to go on these backfills, etc.,” Denney said. “If it wasn’t for his flexibility and accommodating attitude, we couldn’t have done these things and earned these awards. He enables the action.”

Denney added that while the awards are never the team’s main objective, earning them “validates the work we do.”

Many colleagues in the chaplain community reached out to congratulate Luke’s chapel team, but the first one stood out for Kreis.
“Chaplain (Maj) Todd Harder, Peterson AFB wing chaplain, was the first one who texted congratulations to me,” Kreis said. “He was my mentor and trainer when we were together at Offutt AFB. When he texted me to say congratulations, I replied ‘I only won because you trained me.’”

Kreis expressed that he is also indebted to 944 FW leaders for their support in his team’s work.

“Our wing leaders allow us to do so much more than other traditional reserve wings,” said Kreis. “They appreciate our work and what we do for the wing, so they always make sure we get the extra funding to do things for our teammates. It’s the spirit of the entire wing that enables us to do what we do.”