From Air Force Crewdog to Navy Chaplain                               Jack Smith

Flying low-level as a back seat WSO in a F-4 Phantom is exhilarating.  Think of “High Flight” – that poem we all memorized; “I put out my hand, and touched the face of God”. But it’s also incredibly hard work. There is SO much that needs to be done, and done quickly, and done right. When we turned for the next leg of our flight plan, and the wind was not what was predicted (which was often), then our path over the ground was not what we had planned. It’s a bit of a challenge to get back on the proper track, while the ground is whizzing by at 500 knots, and we are preparing for the run over the target, and getting the camera equipment set up, while checking to make sure we’re not burning fuel too quickly, because running out of fuel is not an option, and while responding to a radio call from command post asking some inane question about our status. 


Being a chaplain, counselor, and trying to be a husband and father in a difficult life situation can be rewarding, but it is also incredibly hard work. Imagine a man whose wife is ill, whose second child is running with “the wrong crowd”, he’s working for a boss who has ordered him to fudge the books in reporting to the IRS, and his car has just died, and he doesn’t have money to fix it. What advice can be given to a man in these circumstances? Interestingly enough, what this man may need more than anything is to realize that whatever his situation is, it will change, and that his eternal situation can be glorious with Jesus. Nevertheless, I still acknowledge the importance of giving him immediate physical help in his current circumstances. Jesus said that we are to feed the hungry and cloth the naked. This is an immediate need for people who are living life in this world. 


I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life—not easy, not comfortable, and not what I would have ever expected. But I’ve been able to life live to the fullest, from being on the parachute team at the Air Force Academy, to amazing Air Force flying, to marriage to an incredible woman, to attending seminary, to being able to serve in the United States Navy as a chaplain, to walking our daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Life has been good. God is good.


Bill Van Horn

9491 South Johnson Court 

Littleton, CO 80127


303-948-8435   work

303-596-3615   cell


USAFA Class of '74 - published a book of our experiences for our 40th reunion!



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USAFA '74 Class Reunion Book