Dobbins Chapel to “Taxi” across runway

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The Dobbins Air Reserve Base Chapel will “taxi” across the runway and relocate to the Clay National Guard side of base during a ceremony this Sunday, March 17, 2013 beginning at 8 a.m.

The Dobbins Air Reserve Base Chapel will “taxi” across the runway and relocate to the Clay National Guard side of base during a ceremony this Sunday, March 17, 2013 beginning at 8 a.m.

The ceremony will honor the important role that the chapel has played for over 60 years as a spiritual “home” to Dobbins assigned Airmen and their families, as well as a celebration of the storied history and service members for which the chapel was originally dedicated.

The chapel, which was deployed to Europe during World War II and used by a fighter group in Germany, was declared surplus after the war and acquired by the GA Air National Guard through private donation. Placed on then active-duty Dobbins Air Force Base in 1950, it was dedicated to veterans who served their country in World War II by Brig Gen J.H. O’Neil, Third Army Chaplain famous for writing General George Patton’s prayer for clear weather during the Battle of the Bulge.

Many years later, Dobbins was no longer an active-duty base but the chapel remained standing as a memorial and place of worship for drilling reservists. After 9/11 however, the chapel was on borrowed time, since it was located on property that the base had identified required an access road in order to meet base security and mission requirements.

Because Dobbins as a reserve base was not authorized a chapel, no government funds could be expended on its relocation. It appeared that the chapel would have to be demolished in order to make way for this logistically required access road.

“As a commander, I had to make the very difficult decision to move forward with road construction, knowing that it would most likely mean demolition of the chapel”, said Colonel Tim Tarchick, Dobbins installation commander. “This was probably one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make, knowing the chapel’s history, but I knew mission-critical construction could not be further delayed.”

Enter the Dobbins Chapel Foundation, a private non-profit established in 2005 to preserve the chapel and its history of faith. In an effort that was over seven years in the making, this group of retired reservists and guardsmen was able to raise the private funds required to relocate the chapel in January 2013, just weeks away from demolition. Officials from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, the Dobbins Chapel Foundation, and the Georgia National Guard were then able to sit down together and come up with an acceptable plan to preserve the chapel and its history at no cost to the government.

“This is certainly the first time I have ever heard of a chapel “taxiing” across an active runway.” said Tarchick. “This is truly a once in a lifetime event. I want to publicly thank Major General Jim Butterworth, the Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard for agreeing to find a place on Camp Clay for it.”

The event will be open to media outlets for escorted news coverage. However, due to base security requirements the ceremony will unfortunately not be open to the general public. Only those with valid Department of Defense identification cards and their invited guests are able to attend Sunday’s ceremony.

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For more information or for media access to Sunday morning’s event, contact Capt Patrick Simmons at (678) 655-5055 or 94aw(dot)pa(at)us(dot)af(dot)mil.

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