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Iron Horse Strong — Chaplain assistant serves with pride

Master Sgt. Harry E. Slone Jr., left, master chaplain assistant, 4th Infantry Division and Regional Command – South, and (Chap.) Lt. Col. Bill Harrison, RC – South command chaplain, listen to a brief during a training event in which chaplain assistants learned how to deal with stress in combat, at Kandahar Airfield, Nov. 19.

Story and photo by Sgt. Antony Lee

International Security Assistance Force, Regional Command – South

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Master Sgt. Harry E. Slone Jr. was a couple of months into his deployment in southern Afghanistan when he found out his son was stationed in Germany and would soon deploy to Afghanistan.

The 4th Infantry Division master chaplain assistant was both excited and concerned at the prospect of his son deploying. Pfc. Aaron Slone, an information technology specialist, arrived at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, in eastern Afghanistan, in mid-January.

“As a father, I am concerned; as a Soldier I am proud,” Harry Slone said. “Knowing that my son is following in my footsteps is honorable and humbling.”

Harry Slone, who is based at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, has been in the Army since the early 90s and has deployed several times. Aaron Slone joined the Army last summer and is serving on his first deployment.

“Two generations being deployed at the same time probably doesn’t happen too often, and it’s pretty cool,” Aaron Slone said in an email.

Although the two are serving in different regional commands, they hope to see each other while serving in Afghanistan.

Harry Slone’s concern and joy for his son is representative of the demeanor he takes in overseeing all chaplain assistants in Regional Command – South. He makes sure they are trained in their duties and responsibilities to help run chapel services and support chaplains. He also helps organize memorials and services for fallen warriors, something he considers one of the most important jobs he has as a master chaplain assistant.

“In a solemn way, one of the greatest tasks we accomplish is to honor the dead and to help bring closure to the unit,” he said.

Harry Slone attended basic training in 1991 and has been a chaplain assistant his whole Army career.

“As soon as I was able to join, I joined,” he said. “The Army saved my life. It instilled a lot of discipline in me. It taught me how to be a man, how to be a better father.”

He speaks confidently about the relevance of the seven Army Values — loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage — and how they can impact one’s life, even outside the military.

“If you live the seven Army Values daily, they transfer over to being a father and husband,” he said. “If I do my duty as a husband and father, I will create an environment for my family to be successful and for my kids to give something back to society.”

An important aspect of Harry Slone’s current job is to track the battlefield movement of the division’s Catholic priest, so Soldiers at different bases in southern Afghanistan are able to celebrate Mass as often as possible.

He also provides security for Chap. (Lt. Col.) Bill Harrison, RC–South command chaplain, when both fly to other locations to check up on other International Security Assistance Force chaplains and chaplain assistants.

“One of our major tasks is to make sure chaplains move safely around the battlefield,” he said.

Harry Slone helped organize training in mid-November that allowed chaplain assistants at KAF to experience firing their weapons with increased heart rates, better preparing them to use their weapons should they have to protect a chaplain in combat.

Harry Slone said he looks to his foundation — faith and Family — to get through every day of the deployment.

“Knowing that I have an avenue to turn to, knowing God will answer my prayers, is what pushes me through,” he said. “My Family is huge for me, too. I know what I do is honoring them. My wife accepts me being away from her and accomplishing the mission. She is a former Soldier and knows how this goes.”

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