Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike James
The Reserve Officers Association (ROA) awarded the Chaplain of the Year at the ROA National Security Symposium in Washington, D.C., Aug. 8.
Lt. Cmdr. E. Frank Riley was selected from seven nominees from both the active and Reserve components for contribution to the welfare, morale, and effectiveness of the military reserve services.
"I am stunned and humbled and I feel like I'm being given one of the largest honors of my life," said Riley. "I am just very grateful to the people that allowed me to be a chaplain and care for them."
Riley served as chaplain to Navy Central Command Afghanistan Mobile Support Team from August 2012 to May 2013, helping him stand out as top candidate. Riley was tasked with the mission to care for more than 2,500 Individually Augmented Sailors across Afghanistan, traveling more than 30,000 miles around the country.
"I love being able to work with American service members," said Riley. "The difference they're making for the country and their willingness to stand in harm's way. There's something amazing, for example standing on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and looking around at all those young people who have made that pledge to give their life for their country, I mean where else can you witness something like that?"
Riley traveled extensively during his deployment to Afghanistan.
"We traveled from the largest bases to the smallest [Forwarding Operating Bases]," said Riley. "I was joking around one day when we visited a Special Operations compound that only God, Special Forces and Taliban knew where we were; and even then it was doubtful that all of them knew."
"It was such an amazing experience, constantly just these divine appointments, being at the right place at the right time, and being able to make difference in people's lives," said Riley.
Riley is currently assigned to Navy Operational Support Center, Los Angeles and has volunteered to mobilize this fall to serve as the chaplain for Navy Mobilization Processing Site San Diego.
"From junior enlisted to senior officers, we're all human and we all need care, and that's one of the beautiful things about being a chaplain, what a privilege," said Riley.
This article originally appeared on Navy.mil via the Defense Media Activity