JOE KELLY                     
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Column for 6.08.11
For several years an informal arrangement has existed between Father Seán O’Brien and yours truly.

The simple arrangement works like this: Father Seán, a North Country priest and a chaplain in the Navy Reserve with the rank of commander, gets called to active duty from time to time. When that happens, the two of us e-mail back and forth. With his permission, I publish the e-mails, thus enabling his parishioners at St. Joseph’s in Boonville, St. Mary of the Snows in Otter Lake, and St. Patrick’s in Forestport, as well as his many friends, to keep track of Father Seán while he is away.

Father Seán’s past deployments have taken him to the Middle East. On this tour of duty, he is in Kuwait, where he expects to remain until July.

Here’s his latest e-mail:

Good morning Joe.

Hope all is well in the Boonville, Forestport, Otter Lake and Remsen area. I am well. It was 110 yesterday (May 29th). Whew,...big change from the 60s when I left home. I’ve been here a week now and have a few weeks remaining before I return. The “Warrior Transition” program is doing well. Basically, I deal with SeaBees returning from Iraq/Afghanistan to their homes in the States; providing them the tools they will need to better adjust to their home life. Morale here is good. The SeaBees have done a GREAT job and are anxious to return to their families and friends.

This morning we had a memorial service for the fallen SeaBees who died in service of their country. Attached are some pics of the event and the short talk I was asked to give:

“We remember the 5th of March, 1942, when the Navy recognized the need for construction mechanics, utilities men, electricians, steelworkers, equipment operators, builders and other engineering aids.

We remember the many bases, barracks and airfields built on the Pacific Islands during WWII: from the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska to Okinawa and Japan.

We remember the cold of the Antarctica, jungles of Korea and Vietnam and the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan.

We remember the hard work of our SeaBees in our own towns and villages destroyed by natural disasters.

We remember the many Humanitarian Relief projects which reflect the strong arms and strong hearts of our SeaBees.

Today we remember those fallen SeaBees, who died in service of their country. As you hear their names read and as you hear the bell toll, remember: ‘Construimus, Batuimus’. ‘We build, we fight’.”
Ok, Joe, a few more weeks and I’ll be home. I’ll write again before I return.
Please keep our men and women of the Armed Forces in your prayers and please pray for me. God Bless.
Rev. Seán P. O’Brien