Chaplain Matthew A. Boarts, an Illinois native who’s been in the service only five years, has been named by the Air Force as its top chaplain at the junior-officer level. Boarts is the first — and only — recipient of the new “Air Force Chaplain Service Outstanding Company Grade Officer Chaplain of the Year” award. He will receive the award Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C.
Boarts, a captain assigned to Tucson’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, was nominated for the award after serving in two combat zones — Iraq and Pakistan — last year.
According to an Aug. 1 story in the Arizona Daily Star, Boarts volunteered to stay overseas an extra six weeks in 125-degree heat so his troops wouldn’t be left without spiritual support when a replacement chaplain was delayed in Pakistan.
A senior chaplain who nominated Boarts called him “the best wartime deployed chaplain I’ve seen in 19 years, three wars and five deployments,” according to the Star. Other nominators called him an “angel-winged warrior,” a “bedrock of strength” and a “logistics mastermind” who could scrounge up supplies to put on barbecues for troops or goodwill events for local children.
Boarts, 36, says he’s doing what he loves.
“It’s pretty simple — I love God and I love airplanes. And I love people who love airplanes,” he told the Star. “So this is the perfect job for me.”
Boarts told Reporter he was surprised — and humbled — to receive the award.
“I have had a blessed year in which I was well supported by others,” he said. “An individual award in the Air Force is, in reality, a team award.”
Posted Oct. 4, 2004