Navy Religious Program Specialists Celebrate 34 Years of Service

 

Religious Specialist 2nd Class William Jones commits the remains of a fallen shipmate during a burial at sea ceremony on elevator four aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)

 

Over the past 34 years, RPs have proven their value time and time again as professional partners within the religious ministry team, supporting chaplains who provide, facilitate, care, and advise Marines, Sailors and their families. At sea, ashore, and in combat, RPs have been the go-to people for chaplains needing to get something done. Whether  providing security support in combat and conflict environments,  providing critical logistical support for services, or directly engaging in humanitarian relief operations, RPs continue to exceed the expected. The Navy currently has 889 Religious Program Specialists, both active-duty and reserve. 424 currently serve with Marine units. Happy Anniversary, RPs!

The following pieces were written by two Religious Program Specialists currently serving in the fleet.

I remember how weary I was the first time I went to my recruiting station after I signed my contract. When other future Sailors introduced themselves and their ratings I heard what I would later come to expect when around the Navy “Corpsmen,” “Airmen,” etc.  What I did not hear was “RP” or Religious Program Specialist. On this 34th birthday of the rating I’ll admit, I am no longer weary to be part of the chosen few who exceed expectations as a part of the Navy’s Religious Ministry Team.

I have come to this realization by serving alongside the United States Marine Corps, one of the most unique parts of the rating and the reason I decided to join the RP community. The Marine tradition and esprit de corps have inspired my service and helped my growth as a Sailor, citizen, and individual. Additionally, I get to serve my country and support the needs of the Navy and my chaplain in the community, both home and abroad.

Over the past three and a half years I have come to appreciate serving in the Armed Forces more and more every day. I realize, only now, that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. My journey has taken me from Colorado to Okinawa, from the Great Lakes to Thailand, Korea, and the Philippines. I serve among the new “Old Breed” a new breed of Sailors and Marines who serve their country faithfully; always willing to sacrifice their life for their comrades in a turbulent time, where the country has seen two wars, thousands of miles from home.

While I am not pulling the trigger in support of my comrades in Kandahar, I am on the watch. Always ready to meet the needs of my commander and my country. What makes it fulfilling, and what makes it unique is the fact that as an RP, I can give back to my comrades and protect someone who embodies the faithful devotion to those Marines and Sailors serving: my Chaplain and the Chaplain Corps!

I know my fellow RPs will understand my sentiment. Semper Fidelis.

Happy Anniversary RPs!

By RP2(FMF) Daniel F. Sullivan
MWSS-172, Okinawa, Japan.


 

I have been serving in the Navy as a Religious Program Specialist (RP) for three years, after converting from the Engineman (EN) rate.  I chose to be in the RP community through the Perform to Serve (PTS) process.  I wanted to try something different that would allow me to provide service to people.

Everything is completely different from what I did before as an EN, but it has been a wonderful experience to go through.  I went from going into a machinery room and turning wrenches to walking into a sanctuary and setting up for Sunday services.  I went from picking up Engineering Operational Sequencing System (EOSS) and going through valve alignments to picking up instructions and working with the Religious Offering Fund (ROF).  Not to mention that I don’t have to wear hearing protection as often now!

The thing that makes the RP rating so unique is the positive influence one can have through the diverse opportunities this rating brings to the Navy.  Not only does an RP coordinate and set up religious services for the command, they also provide customer service to the crew in the ship’s library, run chapels while on shore duty, as well as provide personal protection for the chaplain, while in a combat environment.  Another aspect that makes the RP rating unique is that an RP can get orders to support the Marine Corps and gain additional experience in another branch of the military.

The most fulfilling aspect of being a Religious Program Specialist is that I have the opportunity to help others in any way I can during their time of need, or by just doing the small things to make a Shipmate’s day a little better.  This helps me keep things in perspective and not take the things that I have and the people around me for granted.

By RP2 Darryl Nelson
NSA MIDSOUTH, Millington TN

Religious Program Specialist 3rd Class Samantha Haag sets up for a religious service aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Specialist Sabrina Fine/Released)

Continuing Promise 2011 is a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to the Caribbean, Central and South America. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alesia Goosic/Released)

Navy Lt. Carl P. Rhoads, battalion chaplain, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Bradley C. Smith, a religious programs specialist, carry a bench into the new chapel tent. (Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brian A. Tuthill/Released)