In Fort Knox, a father and son work together to bring soldiers to God.
Col. Charles “Ed” Hamlin and his son, 1st Lt. Luke Hamlin, are two of the ministry’s 30 chaplains serving there.
Elder Hamlin is the Garrison Chaplain and has held the position for almost two years. By the end of the year, he will retire from the army.
After being stationed across the country throughout his military career, Ed has been back in the Hardin County area since 2020 and intends to stay. He is 59 and could continue working until he is 62, but he said it was time.
“Home to central Kentucky and it’s a good time to retire right now,” he said.
However, Ed’s service to country and to God will continue through his son, Luke.
“He carries on a legacy of bringing soldiers to God,” he said.
Ed said he served a total of 30 years as a chaplain. He enlisted in the Army in 1981. He alternated between active duty, reserves, and attended college and seminary. He returned to the reserves as a chaplain in 1994 at Fort Knox and was again on active duty in 1999.
The purpose of a chaplain is to ensure that all “religious support operations” are facilitated, Ed said. As a garrison chaplain, he also facilitates all other chaplains on duty.
Luke worked as a pastor for over a year at Buck Grove Baptist Church in Ekron. He was fully evaluated as a chaplain for about a year and a half. Luke is in the U.S. Army Reserves, so he serves as a chaplain at his battalion in Nashville, where he visits for a weekend once a month and for two weeks in the summer.
After high school, Luke went to college, then worked as a police officer in Bowling Green, then as a social worker. There he began working in a small church as a volunteer pastor for young people.
“I really, really enjoyed it,” Luke said. “I felt like maybe that was what I was meant to do.”
When asked if being a chaplain and pastor was something he perhaps avoided since that’s what his father did, he replied that it was not.
“It’s not something I wanted to pursue or avoid,” Luke said.
He then began talking to his family and praying to determine what he wanted to do.
“I didn’t want to dwell on it, but just go there without giving it much thought,” Luke said.
Afterwards, Luke said doors started opening for him, which helped him realize it was something he wanted to do.
With the help of his previous credits, he earned his master’s degree in theology and then was ordained a pastor. A council must then give him an ecclesiastical endorsement that qualifies him as mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually qualified to be a chaplain.
Luke said from start to finish, it took him about a year to complete the application to become a chaplain.
He said he fairly regularly asks his father for advice, especially regarding the protocols that Ed has performed on several occasions. He said finally, he and his father are similar.
“I think we’re more similar than different,” Ed said. “I think we kind of think along the same lines.”
Luke said one of the biggest similarities he noticed between him and his father was their tendency to treat everyone with the same level of love and respect with everyone they met in the military. as chaplain.
To complete his role as chaplain, Luke will take courses for the role for three months in South Carolina at Fort Jackson and depart May 18.
He said that as a chaplain they are called to listen and bring love daily to their fellow soldiers to all who need it.
“For me, it’s summed up in a sort of motto,” Ed said. “‘Bring soldiers to God and God to soldiers.’