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Chief of Chaplains: Change is way of life in Air Force

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Air Force chief of chaplains likens Airmen to Jack Bauer of television's "24" fame. 

"Just like Jack Bauer, we know trouble is out there because we're all fighting the Global War on Terror," said Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Charles Baldwin. "Every day, we accept not only the personal troubles of life, but also the responsibility of the national and international trouble that each day holds. We know about trouble and we deal with it every day." 

Chaplain Baldwin visited Kadena to speak at this year's National Prayer Breakfast March 22. During his visit, he talked to Airmen and members of the 18th Wing Chaplain Services about the changes the Air Force is going through. 

A Vietnam War veteran, Chaplain Baldwin reminds Airmen that change is inevitable and necessary. 

"Change is a part of life," he said. "Downsizing is a painful thing because we're asking our Airmen who committed themselves to the mission and vision of the Air Force to leave the service. But it's necessary to keep our country safe and free. It's a way of life in the military to change." 

He should know. Prior to becoming an Air Force chaplain, the Air Force Academy graduate served as a pilot, flying the EC-121 Warning Star, the precursor to today's E-3 AWACS, and the HH-53 Jolly Green Giant helicopter. 

"I'm grateful for the years I spent as an Air Force pilot," Chaplain Baldwin said. "I learned a great deal from both aircraft and of the Air Force. My time as a Jolly Green Giant pilot in Vietnam was a great privilege for me and has helped me to be a better chaplain. I can speak from experience with our Airmen and they know I've walked in their shoes before."

After tours in Vietnam and Thailand, the young pilot left the Air Force to become a civilian Southern Baptist minister. According to the chief of chaplains, these experiences provided invaluable training for him. 

Still a pilot at heart, Chaplain Baldwin enjoys meeting deployed Airmen and providing guidance and advice as needed. 

"Going out to the area of responsibility is probably my favorite thing to do," the Chief of Chaplains said. "I love walking with all the Airmen and talking with them. Every one of them is an amazing person. I know they are paying a personal sacrifice. Their families are making sacrifices as well by being separated, but the cause is right. I believe our Airmen believe this as well, every day they put on the uniform. We all hope and pray the sacrifices made by our Airmen will bring forth a safer and better world."