CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan --
As a loving husband, proud father of three and inspiration to hundreds, Cmdr. Ray Bailey, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit chaplain, was promoted to his current rank, August 2.
His career began on Easter Sunday, 1973, when he decided to make a change in his life.
With a bachelor’s degree in Christian education from Biola University and a master’s in Divinity from Talbot University, Bailey was working as a youth minister in his hometown of Lincoln, Neb. He started wondering if there was a higher calling and if he was meant to do more. He began to explore options as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy.
“I wanted to travel and have the opportunity to serve God and country.” Now, with more than 16 years of service and four overseas assignments, Bailey has accomplished what he originally set out to. “It’s been a wonderful and very exciting change with wonderful opportunities I would have never experienced as a minister in a local church,” said the 53-year-old. “It’s been an incredible journey.”
Bailey said two unforgettable memories he has are visiting Jerusalem for Palm Sunday and being in Ephesus, Turkey, for Good Friday in 1998. He also enjoyed the opportunity to baptize sailors in the Jordan River.
Bailey says the best part about being in ministry is seeing people, families and marriages grow and succeed through tough times.
Bailey also says he is blessed to have a strong family. “A chaplain’s wife has got to love the ministry as much as her husband because of its demands,” he said. “My wife has been an incredible encouragement by being wonderful to me and our three children.”
The chaplain admits the moves aren’t always easy, but his children have embraced the change and encouraged him just as much as his wife.
“My kids have been troopers and thank me for the experiences and world-view they’ve acquired,” Bailey said. “Now that they are grown, and hind-site being 20/20, they have enjoyed the journey as well.”
Aside from his family, Bailey motivates people and encourages them to make the most out of life, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian Schoffstall, religious program specialist with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“He is always making sure Marines are taken care of,” Schoffstall added. “That’s just who he is – selfless.”