MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Enlisting in the Army in 1983, a current-day Air Force chaplain said he always knew he wanted to serve both his country and his faith. Originally stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, as a medical Soldier, he found himself spending his free time in the local church, his place of comfort.
Lt. Col. Clyde Dyson’s love for the military and his faith lead him down a path to pursue a commission in the Air Force chaplain corps.
Five years into his career, Dyson made the transition from enlisted to officer when he commissioned as a military police officer. Three years later, he transitioned again, this time from green to blue when he earned his commission as a chaplain in the United States Air Force.
“The greatest day of my life was putting the cross on my uniform, and combining the work I do in the military with what I do for the Lord spiritually,” explained Dyson, who is now the wing chaplain assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
As a chaplain, Dyson and his team provide counseling, unit engagement and religious accommodations to MacDill service members, regardless of which branch they are serving in.
From retirees to government employees and even family members, chaplains provide 24-hour spiritual care and support to anyone on base.
“When I wake up every day and come here, it is not a job or occupation,” Dyson stated. “This is a calling that was with me long before I became a chaplain, and will be with me long after I retire.”
Providing counseling is an essential aspect of being a chaplain. The base chapel staff provides services for walk-in crisis’, emergencies and routine-scheduled counseling. Whether it be religious or non-religious counseling to build mental resiliency, chaplains ensure Airmen and individuals are mission ready. In addition to providing counseling, chaplains provide and support religious accommodations.
“We, as the chapel staff, provide religious accommodations for all matters on base,” explained Dyson. “If services can’t be performed by the chaplains, we will coordinate to get the religious accommodations needed provided for through referrals.”
Accommodations include weddings, memorial/funeral services, grief counseling, baptisms, and any religious rite and worship services.
“Chaplain Dyson is passionate about making sure Airmen have the opportunity to practice their religion because it makes them more resilient Airmen,” said Master Sgt. Tabitha J. Harris, the superintendent of chapel operations with the 6th AMW. “He cares for Airmen and loves being a chaplain, advisor, friend and a confidant.”
Often, wing chaplains brief commanders on Airmen accommodations such as kosher meals and holy days.
“To see an Airman be able to have a kosher meal in the field, or be able to receive a food allowance and leave the base dinning facility because they are a practicing Jew is rewarding,” explained Dyson. “On the advice of a chaplain, an Airman is able to both practice their religion and remain a part of the fight.”
In addition to counseling and religious accommodations, chaplains provide unit engagement that encourages open communication and fellowship. From hosting events to providing food, they seek to boost morale.
“We try to provide an atmosphere where the stress level is lowered and the communication is able to flow freely in each unit,” said Dyson.
Without fail, the chapel team is there to assist Team MacDill.
“Every day is a joy and I cannot spend enough time here” said Dyson. “I cannot see enough Airmen or help enough Airmen; I cannot do enough as a chaplain; I cannot preach enough or be around the chapel enough.”