CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Lt. Cmdr. Jon W. Conroe, a 52-year-old Chaplain with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was promoted to the rank of commander during a promotion ceremony here August 31.
“It’s an honor”, said Conroe, a Riverside, California native. “It’s great to be recognized for what I do but recognition is not why I do my job. I do what I do because it’s right.”
A chaplain’s job is to provide guidance and mentorship to military service members based on a religious faith while facilitating the free exercise of religion. A chaplain also provides ethical and moral advice to the unit’s command and its members, said Conroe.
Becoming a chaplain, like many things in the military, is earned not given. Conroe said that before becoming a chaplain, he became a pastor, which requires a Bachelors degree from a certified institution and a post-baccalaureate degree in theological or related studies.
As decorated as Conroe is, his goal to become a Chaplain was not easily attained.
“Like a lot of things in this world, it requires dedication, focus and hard work,” said Conroe. “The only thing that I would say was a hardship for me personally was maintaining a respectable fitness standard at my age. One of the things that I want to be able to do is to keep up with the ones in the field and give them support in any way.”
Conroe was commissioned into the Navy Chaplain Corps as a lieutenant (junior grade) in August of 1999. His accomplishments leading up to becoming a religious representative and his accomplishments throughout his career as a chaplain are not easily measured. He has earned various degrees from a multitude of different universities and has served among many units and churches.
Conroe’s motivation to become a chaplain came from his peers who exposed him to his current career field.
“Pastors and religious organizations are what inspired me but the people that knew me motivated me and convinced me to look into it,” said Conroe. “I wanted to be dedicated to a just cause. One of the mottos that chaplains live by is that we are ‘called to serve.’"
Conroe has been “called to serve” with many units including several MEUs. His opinion of the 11th MEU, however, is different from other units.
“The thing that stands out in this MEU is the amount of senior personal,” said Conroe. “The staff officers and the staff Non-commissioned officers definitely hold themselves in a professional manner and are top performers in their job field."
Conroe is currently a chaplain with the 11th MEU’s command element where he will continue to provide spiritual guidance and ministry to those of diverse and dynamic backgrounds within the unit. Conroe does not plan to shy away from his role now that he is a commander. Conroe said that expectations for himself are high and he anticipates others will expect more of him.