On the need for hope:
When folks have trouble finding hope, sometimes the chaplain can hold out that hope for them. That night, many people were unsure where their hope would come from. Some had never faced their own mortality before. This was a very profound experience. They realized that the only thing that stood between them and losing the ship was their own efforts. It was very, very tough for them. I am immensely proud of the work of the sailors with whom I sailed.On being called a hero:
What I did that night — and the week that followed as we were towed without power to Pearl Harbor — was the work of chaplaincy. I did the Ash Wednesday service days after the fire. I told everyone they could get an exemption [from giving up something] for Lent, as they had certainly experienced deprivation. The imposition of ashes seemed redundant when everyone was already covered in soot.
On being a military chaplain:
Chaplaincy is a very incarnational ministry. We have the privilege of being with our people exactly where they are. We eat the same food. We sleep in the same conditions. We face the same challenges.On loving his job:
This is one of the richest opportunities I’ve ever had in ministry. I am privileged to work alongside some of the greatest women and men this country produces. People join the Armed Forces because they want to make their country and the world a better place. It’s hard not to be inspired by them.
This interview has been condensed and edited. Listen to parts two and three of the Padre (Major) Mike Gibbons interview.