Pastor David A. Canter, Sr.
We are pleased to report that we have found an excellent candidate to fill the position of Currahee Chaplain. Pastor David A. Canter, Sr., a Vietnam vet from Charlie 1-506 in 1968-69, has responded to our inquiries with enthusiasm. He and his wife Linda are currently pastors of the Lambs Chapel Christian Center, a non-denominational ministry in Berlin, NH.
Dave completed his studies at Luther Rice Seminary and has extensive background in community ministries and development projects. Dave also does extensive work with the New Hampshire Vet-to-Vet program (similar to our mentoring initiative) and also with prison inmates in addition to his pastoral duties. Dave is the author of “Knowing Him: Discovering God Through His Names and Attributes." His personal struggles with PTSD and with the consequences of Agent Orange exposure give him special perspectives on veterans’ problems.
The post of Chaplain was first suggested at the 2012 Currahee Reunion general membership meeting last May in Columbus, GA. The Board of Directors worked through the summer to define the responsibilities of the position. Dave’s duties include some ceremonial activities such as giving invocations at reunions, but the most important duties will involve helping veterans with spiritual needs find solutions to those needs, advising the Board of Directors on certain program decisions and working in coordination with Active Duty chaplains to smooth the transitions from military to civilian life for recently separated soldiers.
The exchange of insights on overall veterans’ issues with the Active Duty may have an impact on how our nation identifies and supports depressed and potentially self-destructive returnees. Like the chaplains in the military, hospitals and colleges, Dave is committed to working with persons of all faiths, or no faith.
Dave and Linda have been married since 1970 and have two grown children and five grandchildren. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by telephone at 603-752-5773, or by writing him at 214 School Street, Berlin, NH 03570-2032.
As the first Currahee to be appointed as Chaplain for the Association I thought it appropriate to introduce myself.
In the summer of 1968 I was assigned to Charlie Company, 1/506th Infantry as a brand new Staff Sergeant right out of the Fort Benning “Shake N’ Bake” NCO academy. I had a lot of head knowledge about combat conditions and expectations, but no practical experience. (This was my first assignment to an army unit.)
The first thing I found out was that being in combat situations in Vietnam was very different from what they had taught us at the academy. I desperately needed mentoring from the guys who had been “In-Country.” Several of the guys in First Platoon offered to help. I know I made a few mistakes in those early months but nobody got hurt as a result (by the grace of God).
Then, after two-months of pounding rice paddies in the “III-Corps” and a major move to Camp Evans and patrols in the “I-Corps” I lost my best friend and R.T.O. Lyle Schroeder to a booby trap. I never got over his loss. We had experienced several injuries, some very serious up to that point, but nobody had left the field in a body-bag. In the months ahead I found myself withdrawing and not wanting to make any other friends. It just hurt too much when they got hurt.
I was wounded in May, 1969 and was subsequently sent home and discharged. That wasn’t a good time to be a Vietnam Vet in the college I attended, and after a couple semesters I quit and tried to put it all behind me. I got married and attempted to live a normal life, but the memories and regrets just wouldn’t go away. As with many of you, I self-medicated with whatever was available at the time. I could deal with the physical wounds, but was totally unprepared for the mental and spiritual battles I was to face over the years.
I don’t intend to push my faith on anyone. What I want to share now is my personal story; everybody has one, this is mine.
Over the next nine years my life got worse and worse and eventually, in 1978, I was at my lowest point. I couldn’t resolve the conflicts in my mind and soul. It took a personal encounter with the Lord to do that. I am a Christian now and everything has changed. I sleep peacefully at night. I live life with a newfound calm, peace and joy inside I never thought possible. I am free from bondage to drugs and alcohol.
I currently co-pastor a church in Northern New Hampshire with my wife of 42 years, Linda. We have a couple veterans in our fellowship that are 100% disabled and have enjoyed watching them come through their own struggles and find the peace they were searching for. There is no better feeling than watching the light come into the lives of others and seeing them released from the torments of war.
Over the past several years I have been involved with a peer support group called, Vet-to-Vet. We have helped others learn to cope with their struggles in various ways. We have helped some veterans get into the VA system to receive the benefits they deserve. We have helped some homeless vets find homes and jobs and get a fresh start. This is a good thing. We sometimes refer to it as “Paying it Forward.”
I would love the opportunity to talk with anyone from our unit (past or present) who is interested, either by phone, email, or snail-mail.
Chaplain Dave Canter
214 School Street
Berlin, NH 03570-2032