Published May 29, 2008
Army officials say they are only following regulations, but their plans to remove a memorial to a U.S. chaplain at a camp in Kosovo have shocked and saddened his widow.
Elizabeth Oglesby said she was "a little bit sad" when FOXNews.com told her a sign honoring her late husband, Army Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gordon Oglesby, would be removed from the North Chapel at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.
The sign, as well as three crosses, are being removed to put the chapel in line with Army regulations, said Lt. Col. William D. Jenkins of the 35th Infantry Division's Kosovo Force 9.
"I didn’t even know that the plaque was erected or put up after his death," Oglesby's widow said. "But I am shocked that they would want to take it down, because I know he just lived for his soldiers.
"He got to know some of the local people there and he ministered to them as well in Kosovo."
Gordon Oglesby, a Baptist minister from Kermit, Texas, died in 2006 at age 57 after suffering a heart attack during a deployment to Kosovo on a peacekeeping mission. The sign dedicates the chapel to Oglesby's memory.
Army regulations prohibit chapels from being "named for any person, living or dead, or designated by a name or term suggesting any distinctive faith group," Jenkins said.
It was unclear who erected the memorial sign and the three crosses. Jenkins said he did not know who had done so.
The Base Camp Planning Board approved the removal of the crosses and memorial sign at a regularly scheduled meeting, he said.
"This is not a new regulation and exists to protect the free exercise of religion of all soldiers," Jenkins said.
Army regulations require the exterior of military chapels to remain free of religious symbols.
"The interior of each U.S. Army chapel reflects faith-specific signs, symbols, etc., during each faith group's service so that their faith is fully represented during their service," Jenkins said. "The exterior of Army chapels is a different matter since the chapels are used by many different faith groups."
The crosses will be replaced with a stone monument bearing the name of the chapel and the crest of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps, Jenkins said.
He said the removed crosses will be used by chaplains during special services like the sunrise service. The memorial sign will be returned to Oglesby's unit, the 36th Division.
Elizabeth Oglesby remembers her husband as a man who planned to "burn out for the Lord."
"I think that’s what he did," she said. "He burned out as a chaplain and as a soldier, giving all he could to his men."
She took an optimistic view of the memorial sign's removal.
"At least it served a function for almost a year and a half after his death," she said.