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Chaplains Corner    
Exceptional Service

Robert Certain (on the right)

Robert Certain was born in Savannah, Georgia in December 1947. An alumnus of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland, he attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, graduating in 1969 with a BA degree in History and a commission in the US Air Force. As a combat aviator he flew 100 missions over Southeast Asia in 1971 and 1972 before being shot down and captured.

As a POW in Hanoi, North Vietnam, he lived in the squalor of prison, chained to the will of the enemy. When he was repatriated in 1973, he was physically free; but the “ghosts of Christmas past” periodically haunted my soul. In order to break the chains of combat and imprisonment, he wrote and published my spiritual autobiography as Unchained Eagle and made it available to others who are seeking to make sense out of combat life and their journey in faith.

Following the Vietnam War, he attended the School of Theology, an Episcopal Church seminary in Sewanee, TN, received his Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as a priest in 1976. In 1990, he earned his Doctor of Ministry degree.

As a military chaplain, he served in the Air Force on active duty and in the reserves, serving in various locations, including the US Air Force Academy. He retired from the Air Force Reserves in 1999 at the rank of Colonel. As a parish priest, he served parishes in Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arizona, California and Georgia. When former President Gerald R. Ford died in late 2006, Father Certain was chosen to lead all the memorial services and to preside at his burial in Michigan.

In 2007, he was appointed by the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense to the Defense Health Board, advising the Department of Defense on matters related to the physical, psychological and spiritual health of active duty military members. he also consult with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on matters related to former POWs. In 2009-2010 he served on the DOD Task Force for the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces. Following that, he was appointed to the executive committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and was elected to the executive committee of the Military Chaplains Association. In 2012 he retired from parish leadership to take on a new challenge of leadership as Executive Director of the MCA.

Robert published his autobiography, Unchained Eagle in 2003.

Editor: Chaplain (Col ) Bob Mossey

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