SPRINGFIELD — After the accidental burning last year of Qurans by U.S. troops in Afghanistan sparked deadly rioting, an Air National Guard chaplain from Springfield stepped in and potentially saved countless American lives.
Lt. Col. Jon Trainer
For his effort, Lt. Col. Jon Trainer received the prestigious Bronze Star — a medal given for heroic or meritorious achievement in connection with operations against an armed enemy. And he did it with a PowerPoint presentation.
Trainer, who’s now in the running to be named Chaplain of the Year for the entire Air Guard, was in the third month of his voluntary deployment to Afghanistan last February when U.S. troops at Bagram Airfield mistakenly burned copies of the Muslim holy book.
The ensuing outrage claimed more than 30 lives, including two U.S. troops and two U.S. military advisers. Within 48 hours, Trainer developed a PowerPoint presentation on the proper handling and disposal of Islamic religious material that was seen by every American — military and civilian alike — in Afghanistan. The presentation then was distributed to the U.S. for use in all pre-deployment training.
“This entire mission,” Trainer said from his office at the Springfield Air National Guard Base, “could be undermined by an action like that.
“All that good work. You realize how quickly that work can be undermined.”
Trainer, a Westerville resident and nondenominational Christian pastor who’s been chaplain of the local 251st Cyber Engineering Installation Group since 2000, also sought to prevent any future problems by covering what constitutes Islamic religious material in the first place.
“When a Muslim writes down even a few verses from the Quran on a piece of paper,” he explained, “that immediately gets that same protected status.”
Ultimately, he said, it became an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of culture to U.S. troops and to show Afghanis that the U.S. could respond swiftly to their sensitivities.
“It’s pretty unusual for a chaplain to receive the Bronze Star,” said Col. Wade Rupper, Trainer’s acting commander at the Springfield Guard base. “He was a vital guy at the right time.”
Trainer, 51, will find out on April 1 if he’ll be named Chaplain of the Year. (Continue Reading.)
I wonder if any Muslim chaplains received medals for creating PowerPoints designed to show their fellow Muslims that they shouldn't go on killing sprees whenever someone offends their sensitivities.