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"As chaplains in…the American military, we work together, so that when I was young, I worked for bosses who were Southern Baptists, Lutheran, Presbyterian--people that I would never deal with." (Video Interview, 26:28)

   Peter William McGeory
Collection image
Peter McGeory [2009]
War: Cold War; Iraq War, 2003-2011
Branch: Navy; Navy
Unit: USS LaSalle (AGF 3); US Naval Academy; USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70); US Naval Academy
Service Location: Philippines; Bahrain; Norfolk, Virginia; Okinawa; London, England; San Diego, California; Millington, Tennessee; Bremerton, Washington; Annapolis, Maryland; also: Persian Gulf; Annapolis, Maryland
Rank: Captain
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Peter McGeory was a New York priest in 1985 when, at the strong suggestion of his new Cardinal, John O'Connor, himself a Navy veteran, he became a chaplain. McGeory was in the Persian Gulf aboard the USS LaSalle in March 1987 when its escort ship, the Stark, was struck by two missiles fired by an Iraqi jet during the Iran-Iraq War. He helped in the gruesome task of recovering 37 bodies from the Stark. Two years later, he was assigned, in the wake of another catastrophic incident, to the USS Iowa. During the Persian Gulf War, he served on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. For McGeory, who eventually became Command Chaplain at the U.S. Naval Academy, working with persons of different faiths is one of the true rewards of his job.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (45 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Was a priest in a New York parish for eight years, then taught in a boys' high school; asked by Catholic Cardinal John O'Connor, a Navy veteran, to go into Navy as a chaplain; in Annapolis, living in same house O'Connor lived in. (01:16) Assigned to Bahrain in mid-1980s; USS Stark hit by missiles; 37 sailors killed; this was during Iran-Iraq War; LaSalle was on damage control ship; evacuating Stark crew; having to go into burned compartment to remove charred bodies; assigned to USS Iowa in wake of 1989 explosion; close call with crashing helicopter aboard the LaSalle; on Vinson, never lost a plane; grief counseling for midshipmen at the Academy; counseling the caregivers; dealing with Marines who have lost someone close in war. (07:21) Recently lost a good friend, Marine Colonel John Ripley; difficult to conduct his funeral. (02:02)
During his service on the LaSalle, he was the only chaplain for about 10,000 people on several ships in the Gulf; during the Persian Gulf War, on USS Carl Vinson from which aircraft took off on bombing runs every day; most rewarding part of service, dealing with many different types of people and religions he normally wouldn’t. (02:38) Among awards he received, Navy Commendation Medal is only one he came close to meriting, for actions aboard the USS Stark; the people who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan intact and get nothing are the heroes. (02:16) How 9/11 changed everything at the Naval Academy: who comes there and what they expect; in London on 9/11, but being from New York, he knew people who died at the World Trade Center; admiring of new Marine recruits and their dedication; these are also the young men who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. (04:15)

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  October 26, 2011
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