100 Years of Army Chaplain Assistants

Before December 1909, volunteers served as chaplain assistants. The Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) was established on December 28, 2009 by general orders no. 253, paragraph 1, which read “One enlisted man will be detailed on special duty, by the commanding officer of any organization to which a chaplain is assigned for duty, for the purpose of assisting the chaplain in the performance of his official duties.”

In August 1965, chaplain assistants were designated 71M and in 1974 they doctrinally joined the Chaplain at Battalions and Brigades as the Unit Ministry Team (UMT).

In 2001, the MOS changed to 56M and became a “stand alone” career management field.

During their century of service, chaplain assistants have assisted their chaplains in ensuring the free exercise of religion for millions of Soldiers. Religious support rests on their dedication as 56Ms help strengthen spiritual fitness in our formations. Chaplain assistants perform their mission with intrepidity and professionalism.

During the Boxer Rebellion, PFC Calvin P. Titus, the volunteer chaplain assistant of the 14th Infantry, earned the Medal of Honor. Currently, chaplain assistants like SGT Jason Boatwright, a finalist at this year’s Best Warrior competition, maintain the legacy of the thousands of chaplain assistants over the past 100 years.

Today’s chaplain assistants steadfastly provide proficiency in religious support, assisting commanders in addressing the needs of their Soldiers and families both at home station and in deployed environments. Chaplain assistants are also combatants, who perform and coordinate security requirements of religious support while minimizing the security risks of chaplains who are non combatants and do not bear arms.

From Army Soldiers to Cilivians, Chaplain Assistants have touched many lives. If you have had an experience with a Chaplin Assistant, leave it in the comments section. We would love to hear your story!