BY SANDRA BLACKMER, news editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World
dventist chaplain Colonel William B. Broome, United States Army, currently the installation chaplain of Fort Sill in Oklahoma, has been selected to serve as Pentagon chaplain in Washington, D.C., beginning in June 2006. He will succeed Colonel Ralph G. Benson, who is retiring.
Broome is not new to the Washington area. In 2001, he served as assignment officer for the Office of the Chief of Chaplains at DACH-PER (Department of the Army, Chaplains, Personnel and Ecclesiastical Relations) at the Pentagon. He was promoted to Colonel and transferred to Fort Sill in 2003.
“I really want to bring the grace of God and the servanthood of Christ in love to the Pentagon,” Broome told the Adventist Review. “Of course, that has to be done in a pluralistic environment.”
When asked what he foresees as the greatest challenge of serving as Pentagon chaplain, he said, “Trying to bring God’s vision of forgiveness, compassion, and prophecy to a building that will comprise virtually every faith group that exists.”
Broome began his Army career 38 years ago in Infantry Basic Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. After graduating from Rotary Wing Flight School at Fort Wolters, Texas, and Fort Rucker, Alabama, he was sent to Vietnam and was based in Chu Lai in the I Corps region. After returning from Vietnam in 1970, Broome attended Southern Adventist University in Tennessee, graduating in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion. He received a Master of Divinity degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Michigan in 1976. After serving as a church pastor in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, Broome again entered active duty service as an Army chaplain in 1982. In 1989, he received his Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Kansas State University, and helped initiate several innovative counseling and teaching approaches for families of soldiers deployed as part of Desert Storm during the American-Iraqi war.
“Throughout my career as an Army aviator, minister, and Army chaplain, I have had the privilege to serve people in combat situations, counseling sessions, seminars on marriage and family issues, and provided spiritual fitness leadership to soldiers and families,” Broome said when explaining how his background has helped prepare him for his new position. “I have also spent hours in supervision to countless chaplains, which will, no doubt, help me minister to the nation’s military leaders in the Pentagon.”
Broome was near the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, when terrorists deliberately crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the building, killing 125 people in the Pentagon and 59 passengers and crew onboard the plane. He said he raced to the building and stood ready to rescue any remaining wounded. Broome, along with other military personnel and pastors from various church denominations, also provided pastoral care for survivors and families of the victims throughout that difficult day. A new memorial chapel has been constructed on the crash site.
“Ministering to the victims and survivors of the Pentagon attack was a surreal experience,” said Broome. “I never imagined I would spend a day and night ministering to the nation’s military leaders while watching a portion of the E-ring* burn and collapse.”
Broome’s new responsibilities will include supporting the spiritual well-being of the Pentagon’s nearly 25,000 military and civilian personnel through worship services, religious education opportunities, and pastoral care programs and activities.
Broome is married to Alexa Lee Truax, a registered nurse, certified weight-management consultant, and personal weight trainer. They have two adult daughters and four grandchildren.
*The Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense in Washington, D.C., consists of five concentric pentagons of corridors and offices, with the designation of “rings” and labeled “A” through “E.” These rings are interconnected and enable employees to walk to other sections without going outside. The E-ring is the Pentagon’s outer ring, where the hijacked aircraft hit the building.