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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -
Chaplain Lt. Col. Leon Kircher's family has a long history with the US military. He describes how his father was a tank driver in WWII, his great grandfather, an infantry man in the Civil War. So it came as no surprise when Lt Col. Kircher embarked on his own military career 40 years ago. He started by enlisting in the Army back in 1973 in a military police battalion. While serving in the unit, he was assigned to West Berlin, Germany. While there, he helped to guard one of the gates-the infamous Checkpoint Charlie- that lead into East Berlin. But, along with a love of country, came a driving desire to serve God. It was while serving in Germany that Lt. Col. Kircher felt a strong calling to the ministry.
He left the Army for the National Guard. This gave him time to go to college, and then seminary, all while continuing to serve. He served as a Guard Chaplain's Assistant from 1976-1989. Then, in 1989, he returned to active duty with the Army. He was assigned to oversee chaplains working with a battalion in Fort Bliss, Texas. That assignment would ultimately lead to an overseas deployment to Saudi Arabia in the middle of Desert Storm. Lt. Col Kircher describes his time as a chaplain in the desert by saying, "I've had many times where I'd just drive through the desert and stand outside with my chaplains kit and put the cross and a couple of candles on the hood of my humvee."
After serving two more deployments in Saudi Arabia, he decided to make it a priority to attend airborne school. After getting his wings, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, an air assault division. In an effort to get closer to his soldiers, Lt. Col. Kircher decided to attend air assault school. Lt. Col. Kircher has gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to attending various schools.
He says it's all in an effort to become closer to the soldiers he serves, which ultimately makes him a better chaplain, "It's good because then you can reach them, they look and see, yeah, you've been through it, you understand." Lt. Col. Kircher was deployed to Iraq in 2003.
But Lt. Col. Kircher has not only served overseas, but back home too. He has been honored for his service back home as well. AMCOM Commander, Lt. Gen. Lynn Collyar, recently presented him with an Army Meritorious Service Medal for his work at the Army's Chaplain Center and School.
Lt. Col. Kircher is currently AMCOM's chaplain, providing spiritual leadership and counseling for both solider and civilian employees. But that will soon end. He is set to retire in February 2013. Although his status may change to retired, the years of service will stick with Lt. Col. Kircher, "I'll be a retired solider, but I'll always be a solider."