Naval Support Activity South Potomac welcomed a new command chaplain with the start of the New Year. Lt. Randy Gibson is a six-year Navy veteran who comes to NSASP after tours with Navy Special Warfare Group Four at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, and the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune. After a deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Gibson also served as the regimental chaplain for the 8th Marine Regiment.
The Seneca, South Carolina native worked as an environmental engineer for several years before he was called to the ministry in 1998; in 2000, he graduated from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis. Gibson and his wife, Rita, then spent four years ministering to refugees and asylum-seekers in Western Europe. “It was very rewarding,” said Gibson. “We got the opportunity to meet some of the physical needs that people had and from the missionary perspective, share the Gospel. We enjoyed it very much.”
In 2008, Gibson decided to serve as a chaplain in the Navy. “I felt a calling into the military ministry,” he said.
Gibson’s first assignment with Navy Special Warfare Group Four helped him realize the unique spiritual and emotional challenges that special operators face. “It was a good opportunity to work with a different side of the Navy,” he said. “I deployed with them to Afghanistan and made multiple trips to Iraq. I got to see what they do first-hand and also minister to their needs. They have a special set of needs because a lot of their missions are so different.”
His next assignment with the Marines further underscored the unique needs of service members. “The multiple deployments are tough: You’ve got separation from family, you have a lot of things you don’t have to contend with in the civilian world,” said Gibson. “Marines, Sailors and their families face different challenges than civilians. You try to teach them how to make the most of the time that they’re together, how to stay together as a family while they’re separated and try to help them understand how God can cement it all together.”
Of course, chaplains also serve a vital command role, keeping the “pulse” of a military organization and serving as a confidential listener and advisor to all who seek counsel. Gibson embraced that role at his former posts and hopes to continue that service at NSASP.
Though the operations tempo at Naval Support Facilities Dahlgren and Indian Head does not compare to special operations or Marine Expeditionary Units, Gibson is looking forward to the rest of his tour and will enjoy spending some extra time with his family. After some very busy past assignments, Gibson may also find a little time for his hobbies: Sports, running, skiing and wood-working.
Gibson is already settling into the chance of pace. “I’ve enjoyed it and I’m meeting a lot of different people,” he said. “[NSASP] is a different environment... it’s a learning curve for me.”
Gibson encouraged all with spiritual needs or questions to contact him. “As a chaplain of two bases, I want to be a chaplain for everybody, regardless of their rank or where they work, or whether they are students who will only be on base for a few months,” he said. “I’m happy to talk with any civilian employees, as well. NSA South Potomac is my battalion, so to speak.”
Chaplain Gibson can be reached at 540-653-4848 (office) or 540-413-7029 (cell).