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Chaplain gets dirty in 55th SFS MWD kennels

Airman scrubs brick wall

Ch. (Capt.) Douglas Tupper, 55th Wing chaplain, cleans a 55th Security Forces Squadron’s kennel as part of the 55th Wing Chaplain Base Chapel's new Toughest Job program Oct. 20. After cleaning out the kennels, the team got the chaplain into a bite suit and he was the target for a military working dog as it did its bite training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. William A. O'Brien)

Airman in orange suit is bit by dog

Ch. (Capt.) Douglas Tupper, 55th Wing chaplain is caught by a 55th Security Forces Squadron military working dog during a bite training exercise Oct. 20. The chaplain was visiting the unit as part of The 55th Wing Chaplain Base Chapel's new Toughest Jobs program. The program allows the chaplains to spend a day with the units they’re associated with and experience what their daily life is like so we can get to know better what they do and what issues they face on the job. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. William A. O'Brien)

Airmen talk inside a dog kennel

Ch. (Capt.) Douglas Tupper, 55th Wing chaplain, talks with a 55th Security Forces Squadron dog handler during his visit to the 55th SFS kennels Oct. 20 as part of the 55th Wing Chaplain Base Chapel Toughest Jobs program. The chaplain, dog handlers and the dogs all enjoyed the visit and Tupper said the 55th Wing Chapel Corps plans to do more of these visits across the installation in the coming weeks.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. William A. O'Brien)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The 55th Wing Chaplain Base Chapel kicked off their new "Toughest Jobs" program Oct. 20, 2020, with a visit to the 55th Security Forces Squadron’s kennels.

“The program allows the chaplains to spend a day with the units they’re associated with and experience what their daily life is like so we can get to know better what they do and what issues they face on the job,” said Ch. (Capt.) Douglas Tupper, 55th Wing chaplain. “This is also a great opportunity to know get to know them and for them to get to know us.”
 
The day started with the chaplain bringing coffee and breakfast to the unit. When they were done, Tech. Sgt. Mark Allen, 55th SFS kennel master, explained to Chaplain Tupper what he would be doing with them that morning.

“We gave the chaplain a snapshot of our hygiene and sanitation and basic dog training procedures,” said Allen. “This showed him how we keep our dogs healthy and fit for the mission we are responsible for here.”

After cleaning out the kennels, the team got the chaplain into a bite suit and he was the target for a military working dog as it did its bite training. The visited wrapped up with a lunch. But the most valuable aspect of the visit for both sides was the relationship built between the dog handlers and the chaplain throughout the visit.

“Everyone sees the dogs out on patrol or the demos we do, but they don’t experience the daily grind and see what it takes to make those things happen,” said Allen. “It’s amazing somebody would step out of their comfort zone and take their time to see that. Not just to see our dog work, but to spend time with the handlers and ask us how we are coping with our stress.”

Although the chaplains are doing this to see the difficulties of day to day life, Tupper said he hopes that through this, Airmen find the chaplains as a resource they can turn to when hardship begins to overwhelm them.

“The investment you make in people’s lives when you get to know them and show actual care for them, grows to a point that really surpasses our own expectations,” the chaplain said. “A chaplain’s heart is to be there in their toughest moments. The ground work for that is being there in their good times, so that when they reach that point, they think of the chaplain.”

The chaplain, dog handlers and the dogs all enjoyed the visit and Tupper said the 55th Wing Chapel Corps plans to do more of these visits across the installation in the coming weeks.

“This is a program that gets us in with the unit and allows us to directly see and feel their impact on the mission. No two jobs are the same and we hope to get around the installation and understand all the unique missions and the each Airman who performs them,” said Tupper. “We are sowing the seeds of connection so that way we can be there when they need us the most.”