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Email to Chester Pelt, Jr.
Chester Pelt, Jr. Chaplain Pelt's Son

 



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Capt. Chester H. Pelt

chp1944.jpgBefore entering the military service, Chaplain Pelt was pastor of a church in Durham, North Carolina, and had been in the Gospel Ministry for 11 years. Before Durham, he was pastor in Greenville and Avden, North Carolina. On April 3, 1992, he will have served in the ministry for sixty years, having begun interim preaching during the second year of his ministerial training at age twenty. 

Pelt entered Chaplain Indoctrination School at Harvard University on July 13, 1943. Upon graduation, he was assigned to the First Air Force Headquarters, Long Island, New York. From there he was transferred to an Airborne Aviation Training Group at Bradley Air Force Base. Connecticut, a unit that was designed to train men to be dropped in gliders upon bombed out Japanese air bases; extinguish any fires and make necessary repairs to air strips and buildings for immediate friendly use. Needless to say, the idea failed because the Japanese went underground during air bombardments only to emerge and destroy both men and gliders as soon as they landed. As a result, all of the glider units were deactivated and their personnel given other assignments. 

Chaplain Pelt was sent to the 2nd Air Force Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, he was temporarily assigned to assist the Chaplain at Dyersburg Air Force Base, Tennessee. 

In the meantime, the ground echelon of the 39th Bomb Group was being organized in Dalhart, Texas to which Pelt was assigned after about four months. Soon after he arrived at Dalhart, the entire ground personnel were moved to Salina, Kansas to join the air echelon. There, both echelons began training for service overseas. 

Chaplain Coleman (Catholic) as assigned to the 314th Bomb Wing. He served both our Catholic men and those of the 29th Bomb Group. There was no Jewish Chaplain assigned to our Wing, and only once did one visit our unit - during the Passover Season. At the time the 39 th arrived on Guam, they were told they would not have a Jewish Chaplain. Therefore, the Group Chaplain would be responsible for Jewish religious services, something Chaplain Pelt had been trained to expect. He proceeded to call a meeting of all Jewish personnel to select a Leader and a Reader for their religious worship. Chaplain Pelt was asked by the Jewish congregation to attend their assembly with them and deliver a lesson from the Old Testament. He gladly consented to do so. For him, it was a great opportunity to learn more about the Jewish form of worship. News about his service in the Jewish Worship on Guam followed him back to the States and he was frequently called upon to participate in many base Jewish religious services throughout the balance of his military career. 

Following active military service, Chaplain Pelt chose to remain in the Active Reserve. He was honorably discharged in 1972 with the rank of full Colonel. He had served his country 29 years. From the date of his separation from active service in 1948, he went on to teach at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida, his hometown, until 1973 when he was forced to retire following a heart attack.

With Mildred, his wife, he moved back to Florida in 1948 and bought 287 acres of land near his father's estate. There, the Pelts set about to establish 250 acres into a planted pine forest, and the balance of 37 acres into a cattle pasture. At the time of his heart attack and the entrance of their only son into the University, it became necessary for him to give up their hobby cattle ranch. However, with the aid of the local county forestry service the Pelts were able to continue their tree farming, which they still do. 

Now free of his teaching responsibilities on Saturday and Sunday, he was free to do weekend preaching in churches that did not demand much attention during the weekdays. He enjoyed this until such time as his heart condition compelled him to retire from regular church duties in 1975. He continues to serve on an interim basis for sick and absent pastors, and has no plans of giving up this service in the Lord's church. 


Pelt [ 1 ] [ 2 ]
Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group" by Robert Laird (Crew 5) and David Smith (crew 31)