Army chaplain displays courage, compassion in Iraq mission


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Amid bombs, gunfire and nonstop work days, Steve Quigg carried hope to injured, depressed or homesick soldiers.

It’s different singing “Amazing Grace” when exploding bombs rattle the windows of your church.
That’s what U.S. Army Chaplain Steve Quigg, of Lee’s Summit Community Church, experienced as he ministered to soldiers across Iraq for most of last year. Quigg led worship services, counseled soldiers, visited the wounded and traveled the country to minister to troops in remote outposts. He also served on a committee that provided leadership to all chaplains in Iraq. During the last two months of his stay, Steve led the team of chaplains for Camp Anaconda, the largest American base in Iraq, with 30,000 personnel.
The most challenging duty in Quigg’s daily 12-hour shifts occurred in Iraq’s largest hospital. Nearly every wounded soldier received treatment there and Quigg was sporadically asked to maintain a silent, prayerful vigil in the operating rooms where life-threatening injuries were treated.
“That was a challenge, just seeing the degree of injury and the loss of limbs on so many people when they’re just kids to me, knowing their lives are going to be altered,” he says.
In his last six months in Iraq, Quigg visited remote locations to minister to both troops and chaplains, many of whom battled depression and homesickness. He was transported by helicopters and small planes that used evasive tactics and on-board gunners for defense. That didn’t prevent them from being attacked several times by machine gun fire.
“It never failed that somebody would always yell, ‘Chaplain, are you praying?’ I would always respond affirmatively but would say, ‘Yes, and you can pray, too.’”
Late last year, Quigg returned home and to his regular job with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, but says the experience in Iraq has changed him.
“I always felt I was a sensitive, aware and thankful person [before],” he says. “I think [this experience] heightened every one of those things. I’m more appreciative of my life and my family.
My wife [Ann] and my kids [Katie and Jon] are my heroes for stepping up to the plate and taking care of things back home.”
U.S. Army Chaplain Steve Quigg, of Lee’s Summit Community Church, helped shore up the spiritual courage of troops in Iraq.
Because of the character-refining environment of Iraq, situations that would have previously caused Quigg anxiety don’t seem to rattle him now. His service in Iraq also rekindled his passion for full-time ministry. In addition to serving as a chaplain in the Army Reserve for 18 years, Steve previously pastored for 20 years.
“I really believe God is preparing me for something in ministry,” he says.