Chaplain survives Mosul blast, ministers in aftermath

December 23, 2004

The Rev. David Sivret, rector of Christ Church, Eastport, Maine, and nearby St. Anne's, Calais, is currently serving as chaplain in Mosul, Iraq, with the Maine Guard's 133rd Engineering Battalion. After the December 21 bomb blast there that killed 22 people, Sivret sent the following note to the people of the Diocese of Maine, adding his thanks for their prayers and for the support congregations have offered to his work with soldiers and the people in nearby Iraqi villages. The note was released by the Diocese of Maine and its communications officer, Heidi Shott.

"As I take time off from writing a very difficult memorial sermon, I'll share with the people of the Diocese of Maine the events of the day.

"On December 21st, at approximately 1200 noon I had just sat down to have lunch with Maj. John Nelson, the Battalion's Chief Medical Officer. I had just said grace when I saw a bright flash. I don't know how long it was before I woke up on the floor about 10 feet from where I had been sitting down. I looked around, keeping my head down. Then I realized that I couldn't hear.

"I got up and started doing what God has give me to do: minister to soldiers and civilians alike. There were many soldiers and civilians hurt, dying and dead. I prayed with the injured as best I could. All the while I was keeping an eye out for Maj. Nelson, "Doc" I call him. I found him in the kitchen area caring for the injured. We teamed up for a time and worked together. We looped back into the hall where Doc collapsed onto a stretcher. As we left the DFAC I turned to go to the expectant area, and Doc was taken to the hospital. I found the area set up for the morgue and began giving Last Rites. CH Barnett, a United Methodist minister, showed up and helped me out. (Side note: I have been given the task of being Camp Marez's Chaplain and CH Barrnett is my deputy. This
along with our regular Battalion duties. Enough of side notes.)

"I was one of the walking wounded and helped take a SSG from one of the units to the AID Station with me. The medics took a look at me and found that my left ear would be all right in a day or so but my right ear had ruptured. I also found a very very small piece of metal sticking in my pant into my right knee. Everything was going to be fine! My assistant Greg Raychard, LTC Glenn, and I went to the hospital. We had two soldiers missing, and I wanted to see if they were in the hospital. We checked all the wards, but they were nowhere to be found. I found numerous other soldiers from my Battalion with various wounds.

"The Chaplains LSA Diamondback were doing a great job ministering to all the injured. I continued my looking for my soldiers. I found them where I didn't want to find them. In the morgue. This is always difficult but this was even more so in that I was the Chaplain who officiated at one's wedding and the other soldier was a son of one of my classmates. I have had great support from Chaplains from higher up and my fellow chaplains here at Camp Marez.

"May God give us the strength to get through this time. What they have done will not stop us from celebrating the birth of our Savior. We will gather for Lessons and Carols and then a Midnight Service. Christmas will still come ... the hope that is given us in the birth of the Christ Child will strengthen us and will see us through the coming days.

"Just one more note: CW 2 Christopher Bean is a great asset. Chris is a member at St. Stephen's in Waterboro. Oh yes, and he is fine. He missed lunch with me on the 21st by minutes, Thank God. -- David+"

Note: December 23 editions of the Portland Press Herald carry a story about Maj. John Nelson and the Rev. David Sivret, written by Bill Nimitz, a reporter currently in Iraq covering the 133rd. Link to an on-line version is: http://mainetoday.com/