Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division


Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Division Chaplain

Transferring Chaplain Hall

The day that I came back from the hospital I found that a serious problem had come up during my absence.  The first man I met upon my return was the Special Service Officer.  He told me, “You sure are in trouble with the 142nd.”

I asked Chaplain Roemer what had happened.

The Special Services Officer had secured some pornographic motion pictures.  When they were shown in the 142nd Infantry, Chaplain Phinney protested to the commanding officer.

Colonel Lynch told him, “I expected you to protest, but I am the commanding officer, and we will continue to show the pictures”.

Chaplain Phinney was not satisfied.  He talked with Chaplain Hall who suggested that they contact the Division Chaplain.  They came to headquarters and told their story to Chaplain Roemer, who said, “I don’t know what we can do, but I do know what Chaplain MacCombie would do, if he were here.  He would discuss the problem with the division commander”.

They reported the problem to General Walker.  He immediately ordered that the pictures be impounded.  They were not to be shown again within the division.  This action had infuriated the Special Services Officer and Colonel Lynch.  They could do nothing about their frustration except be angry at the Division Chaplain.

In order to try and smooth things, I went to see Colonel Lynch.

He told me, “I do not like any chaplain going over my head.  The pictures weren’t bad.  You probably would have enjoyed them.  I can’t understand Chaplain Phinney.  He is not like a good Catholic chaplain.  He is more like a hard-shelled Baptist.”

I informed him that I was a Baptist and that we were simply trying to carry out the policy of the Division Commander.  He was still not happy.

About this time Chaplain Phinney had to be evacuated as unfit physically for combat duty.  Colonel Lynch requested the transfer of Chaplain Hall.  General Walker discussed the matter with me.  I recommended against the transfer, because Chaplain Phinney and Chaplain Hall had been carrying out the policy, which had been laid down by him.

He said, “If I leave him there, he will have an uncomfortable time with a commanding officer who does not want him.”

I assured the general that Chaplain Hall could take it.

Later on Colonel Lynch called his three chaplains for conference.  He told them that they were forbidden to contact the Division Chaplain.  I referred the problem to the Commanding General through the Chief of Staff.  Colonel Lynch was ordered to clarify his order to chaplains so that they would know that they could contact the Division Chaplain, but that they should take up matters affecting the command with the unit commander before asking for action from the Division Commander.  It seemed to be a good time to transfer Chaplain Hall.

I remembered how enjoyable my service for twelve years with the artillery had been.  Chaplain Hall was an Episcopalian.  General Hess, the artillery commander at that time, was also an Episcopalian.  It seemed to be a good combination and such an assignment would compensate Chaplain Hall for being transferred from a unit which he had served so long.  Colonel Matlock stated that while the artillery would dislike losing Chaplain Cox, General Hess would concur in whatever the Division Commander desired to do.  The transfers of Chaplain Hall and Chaplain Cox were approved.

Some months later Colonel Lynch said to me, “You see I can get along with my chaplains.”

At that time he had one Roman Catholic chaplain and two Baptist chaplains.


Copyright 2001 by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission

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