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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

Native among elite group of naval chaplains

Sunday, November 4, 2012

SIKESTON -- A local native's recent military promotion puts him in some pretty exclusive company.

The Rev. Capt. Jerome Hinson, currently stationed in San Diego, became one of only a handful of people to have his job title when he was promoted to serve as chaplain for the U.S. Navy's 3rd Fleet.

"We only have six numbered fleets so I only have five other peers in the world," Hinson said.

While he was promoted to the fleet's chaplain position in 2011, the promotion to the corresponding rank -- captain -- had to wait until the Navy's next fiscal year and became effective in September, Hinson explained.

The rank promotion is an important career milestone as a captain in the U.S. Navy is the equivalent of a colonel in U.S. Army, Air Force or Marines.

By the time naval officers that are not chaplains reach Hinson's rank, they usually have been assigned to command their own ship.

"A chaplain will never be in command of anything," he said. "If I'm in a lifeboat with an ensign, the ensign will be in charge of it."

But then, as chaplain of the fleet Hinson is responsible for significantly more sailors.

"The 3rd Fleet, has 125 ships of a variety of sizes," he said, "and about 400 aircraft and 50,000 sailors. I oversee about 50 other chaplains that are out there on ships, on the deck plates, with their sailors to facilitate the free exercise of religion for the force."

Having a successful military career was not something Hinson had dreamed of while growing up, however.

"I was born in Missouri Delta Community Hospital in Sikeston and grew up in Morehouse," Hinson said. "I graduated in 1981 from Sikeston Senior High: I was a proud Bulldog."

After graduating, Hinson first went to went to Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., for his bachelor's degree.

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