CAMP ROBERTS, Calif. --
The sun begins to break through the clouds after a long, stormy night here Dec. 12. U.S. Navy Cmdr. Samuel Ravelo arrives to check on the welfare of the U.S. Marines of Headquarters and Service Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s chaplain.
As the 15th MEU’s chaplain, Ravelo’s role is what he calls “ministry of presence.” He explained that his role is to be there in case someone needs to talk and to remind them that God is in the midst of our exercise.
“I always tell people that God cannot come to [realistic urban training], so he uses people,” Ravelo said. “That’s how it is in life in general; God made us so he can use us. The important part is that I was chosen so I could represent Him as a chaplain at this point of my life with the 15th MEU.”
The 15th MEU’s Marines are conducting RUT Dec. 5-16 to prepare the unit for its deployment to the Western Pacific and Middle East next spring. The purpose of RUT is to provide the MEU the opportunity to conduct training in unfamiliar environments in preparation for their upcoming deployment.
Ravelo visits Marines from the MEU’s subordinate elements to check on how they are doing and to make it apparent that he is always available if they need someone to talk to.
“I want to know what they’re thinking,” Ravelo said. “[I want to know] if they’re liking it, not liking it. I want to remind them of how unique they are, because most people don’t have a chance to do what they do. Sometimes people complain because they’re out in tents and it’s raining, but I try to find a way to show them how unique this opportunity is.”
The chaplain deals with people’s spiritual needs. Ravelo explained when your spirit is right, almost everything else in your body is as well. This is important in the work of the Marines and Sailors.
“We have more challenges than a lot of people because of our lifestyle and different missions,” Ravelo said. “We could be called any time to go to war or defend another country. If our spirit is strong, it makes life way easier. It helps us deal with those challenges in a more reasonable and wiser way.”
Ravelo said he is looking forward to the deployment because he has the opportunity to touch thousands of lives and encourage them to become everything God made them to be.
“I believe that my job lasts forever,” Ravelo said. “What I do is not only for a deployment or for this exercise, but for eternity. Everything I do lasts forever, time cannot kill it because it has to do with people’s souls, and that will never end.”