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U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Carey Cash, the chaplain of the Marine Corps, speaks to Marines during a period of instruction at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 5, 2023. During the discussion, Cash spoke to staff noncommissioned officers and officers from across I Marine Expeditionary Force about character development and spiritual fitness.

Photo by Courtesy Photo

Chaplain of the Marine Corps reinforces resiliency, leadership with 1st Marine Division

21 Apr 2023 | Cpl. Willow Marshall The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Twenty years ago, U.S. Marines and sailors with 1st Marine Division conducted critical missions as part of the opening moves of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Carey Cash, now the chaplain of the Marine Corps, was on the ground as the battalion chaplain for 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st MARDIV, during the initial assault. This year, on April 5, Cash visited with leaders from across the division to reinforce and introduce resilience practices and promote leadership engagement.

“As we deal with challenges of resiliency for 22,000 Marines and sailors, Chaplain Cash’s messages really resonate with the Blue Diamond,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division. “Chaplain Cash is a veteran and a hero in the division and we are happy to have him back here.”

 “Good leaders build on every source of strength of their people. I encourage you to push out your chaplains and use them as a beacon of leadership and wisdom.” Rear Adm. Carey Cash, chaplain of the Marine Corps

Cash, a Memphis, Tennessee, native, talked with enlisted and commissioned leaders of the division before a memorial ceremony with his 5th Marines comrades from the OIF campaign.

Cash opened with, “There is an EGA stamped on my heart.” Cash served in multiple Marine Corps units and has Marines in his family. He feels very close to the Marine Corps.

“My experience with 1/5 in Iraq is a lantern in my life I still use to guide me,” said Cash during his talk. “Marines are willing to do things others are not; Marines are willing to go towards the sound of gunfire and draw lines in the sand when needed.”

Cash offered a lesson of transcendence and spiritual readiness to senior officers and staff noncommissioned officers of the division. He explained four effective ways for division Marines and sailors to be apart of something bigger than themselves: faith, community, purpose, and shared sacrifice for the greater good. Cash emphasized the link shown in studies between transcendence, the previous four factors, and a significant development in teamwork, alertness, will, and even suicide prevention.

Cash’s message highlighted the connections between leadership and spiritual readiness. He talked most on the everyday small unit leaders’ relationship and interaction with their Marines and sailors, drawing a connection between their spiritual fitness and St. Thomas Aquinas’ “just war” theory.

Aquinas’ theory postulated that while violence was terrible and must be avoided at all costs, an offensive war fought to prevent injustice, carried out by moral combatants who sought to avoid evil, was a just war. Good leaders, and the soldiers who followed them, would limit violence to the extent necessary.

“Good leaders build on every source of strength of their people,” explained Cash. “I encourage you to push out your chaplains and use them as a beacon of leadership and wisdom.”

Cash explained that chaplains are not just to be used as faith-based resources, but as a way to help Marines and sailors be a part of the something bigger newer generations desire.

Cash emphasized to division leaders the importance of leading Marines and sailors to a standard, and to refuse to lower the standards needed for those men and women to succeed in combat. He recognized spiritual impacts in leadership amongst historical leaders like James Stockdale, Chester Nimitz, Richard Antrim, Bernard Montgomery, and James Mattis.

Cash closed with, “Remember, it was the Marine Corps and senior chaplains who codified honor, courage, and commitment.”