Garrison Chaplain Col. Scott Koeman thanks directorate professionals for their attendance during prayer breakfast April at Frontier Chapel. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer

Professionals from Fort Leavenworth directorates gathered for the Religious Services Organization Prayer Breakfast, which consisted of a buffet meal and a devotional led by Garrison Chaplain Col. Scott Koeman, April 1 in Fellowship Hall of Frontier Chapel.

“The goal is to bring the directorates together, just to bring (together) everyone who does the day-to-day work of running Garrison,” Koeman said.

He said he and a team of chaplains designed the event to be informal and to remind people that RSO is still a source of connection despite the disconnect that has happened everywhere because of the pandemic. He said the event also shares inspiration to build up and encourage the professionals in attendance.

Garrison Chaplain Col. Scott Koeman references Matthew 17:20 to exemplify faith while telling a story about serving with former prisoner of war Spc. Shoshana Johnson during prayer breakfast April 1 in Fellowship Hall at Frontier Chapel. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

After breakfast and a devotional with themes of faith from Matthew 17:20, Koeman shared a story from his experience as a battalion chaplain to exemplify his message. He said a soldier he served with, then-Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 507th Maintenance Company, approached him multiple times seeking guidance about returning home safely to her child, given the impending confrontation between the United States and Iraq. Koeman said he told her it was unlikely she would see front-line combat and not to worry, but the unit deployed to Iraq in March 2003.

Koeman said Iraqi forces ambushed Johnson’s convoy after a wrong turn in Nasiriyah, Iraq. He said nine soldiers were killed in action and six others, including Johnson, were captured as prisoners of war.

Koeman said at every chapel service during the deployment, the unit closed by singing “Amazing Grace” acapella. He said Johnson later told him that while prisoners were not to speak or communicate, her captors never stopped her from singing “Amazing Grace.”

“Shoshana’s signing of ‘Amazing Grace’…God used that, used it to turn the heart of just one of those prison guards, who then reached out to a family member and said ‘find the Americans and let them know we’re here.’”

April Watts, Fort Leavenworth Hunt kennel volunteer; Jackie Dunham, animal caretaker; and Garrison Chaplain NCOIC Sgt. 1st Class Gary Miles socialize during the prayer breakfast April 1 in Fellowship Hall at Frontier Chapel. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Koeman said Marines liberated the prisoners of war after two and a half weeks, and Johnson reunited with her child.

He emphasized the importance of faith in the anecdote and to attendees before his closing words.

The next prayer breakfast is at 7:30 a.m. July 1 in Frontier Chapel.

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