Location sings praises of first assigned chaplain's team

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Amber Balken
  • 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron Public Affairs
Armed with Bibles in lieu of M-16s, Chaplain (Capt.) Jeff Granger and Senior Airman Mirella Santos comprise the first chapel team responsible for the spiritual well-being of all deployed here to the 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron.

"We have an outstanding target of opportunity to influence the spiritual climate of the (Forward Operating Location)," said Chaplain Granger, "and when that is affected, it trickles down to operations as well."

In the past, Air Force chaplains visited the FOL during religions holidays but never held a permanent position at the installation. To compensate for the gaps between the holidays, Airmen organized Bible Study groups.

According to Airman Santos, being the first chapel team presents challenges.

"There are more liberties and distractions on a base like Manta than there are in the desert," Airman Santos said. "(My goal) is to provide the spiritual support that everyone needs."

The 478th EOS offers many of the same conveniences to its servicemembers as a base of a larger size, including a top-of-the-line dining facilities, permanent lodging, medical facilities, a convenience store, fitness center and recreation activities.

"We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for our deployed personnel. This was a need that had been identified by our personnel and we are happy that we are able to meet the spiritual needs of our personnel," said Lt. Col. Javier Delucca, 478th EOS commander

The Air Force gives you the tools to become physically fit, Chaplain Granger said, and "chaplains provide tools to develop spiritual and emotional health, resulting in Airmen who are completely fit to accomplish the mission."

The U.S. Air Force has been operating from Manta, Ecuador, since 1999, with the signing of the Convenio, the agreement to allow operations in Manta.