From cop to chaplain: one role helps with the other

From cop to chaplain: one role helps with the other

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  — While every job plays an important role in the Air Force, two are known well by every Airman: security forces and chaplains. 

Airmen recognize security forces members as the guardians of the gates for military installations. On the other hand, many Airmen know chaplains to be confidential sources that are sought out in times of need or leaned on for spiritual guidance. Though the jobs seem very different at first glance, one Airman said, his duty in one role has helped him fulfill his duty in the other.

Capt. Matthew Spencer, 325th Fighter Wing chaplain, began his Air Force career as an enlisted security forces member at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo.

“Right out of high school, I joined and went to basic training in Lackland Air Force Base, Texas,” said Spencer. “My Air Force specialty code was security forces, and I spent six years in security forces.” 

After Spencer completed his six year commitment, he decided it was time to separate from the military and work on furthering his education.

“My wife was the catalyst behind me going to school,” Spencer said. “She could tell it was on my heart, but I didn’t really feel I was smart enough to make it happen. I was thinking, ‘master’s degrees, that’s beyond what I can accomplish.’ She pushed me to do it, she gave me the encouragement and she believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”

Spencer explained that he and his wife worked in real estate, and she shouldered the burden of a heavier workload to allow him the opportunity to go back to school. 

“I went to school full time. I took no breaks,” said Spencer. “All summer, all the way through, and I even took a couple semesters of course-overload, which was approved by the dean. My wife took the work load, so I owe her a lot.”

After obtaining his master’s degrees from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Spencer felt a calling to return to the Air Force, but this time as a chaplain. 

“I feel like I really connect with the security forces troops, because I’ve stood at the gate with two stripes on and waved cars on for hours and hours, and I’ve sat in the snow at the static posts,” Spencer said. “I’ve worked the flight line, I worked law enforcement, and I did nuclear missile convoys. I really enjoyed that time, but that’s the main reason I really wanted to come back in as a chaplain, because I know what those guys go through.”

With his strong calling and wife’s encouragement, Spencer became an officer in the Air Force Reserves, and now fulfills his obligations to the Air Force by reporting to Tyndall and ministering over the protestant services on base.

As with many reservists, Spencer has a job in the civilian sector as well. When he leaves Tyndall, Spencer says he will resume his job as a host for a television show called, “Final Fate TV” on the Hunt Channel. One of the ways he likes to support his fellow Airmen  is by inviting them to be a part of his show.

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