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Air Force chaplain calls career 'chance of a lifetime'

Capt. Mark Hunsinger, right, takes a moment to pray with a servicemember who he just baptized at a base swimming pool in Southwest Asia, March 24, 2013.

HURLBURT FIELD — About five years ago Capt. Mark Hunsinger was called to change his life.

These days the longtime minister is serving as an Air Force chaplain who offers support to troops at home and overseas.

“To be able to do this in this kind of capacity is the chance of a lifetime, really,” Hunsinger said.

Hunsinger was serving a church in upstate New York when he felt compelled to join the Air National Guard. He later switched to active duty and was assigned to Joint Base Andrews before arriving at Hurlburt Field’s 1st Special Operations Wing.

He’s only gone overseas once, but said the issues people face change very little no matter where they are.

Relationship issues are one of the most common.

He has had late-night conversations with security forces overseas and has prayed with air crews before they take off. He and other chaplains at Hurlburt hope to continue that type of interaction at home.

The efforts of the self-described easy-going man have been recognized on a national level. Hunsinger was presented with the Witherspoon Award for his unwavering devotion and commitment to helping others.

“I was very shocked, surprised, humbled,” he said. “I really didn’t anticipate winning.”

The award, which was named in honor of a chaplain who served in World War I and World War II, was presented to one chaplain from each military branch Nov. 21 in New York by the National Bible Association.

Hunsinger will receive a framed page of Psalms from King James’ 1611 Bible.

The award, while nice, didn’t change what Hunsinger already knew.

“I kind of felt confirmation long before this point,” Hunsinger said recently. “(The award) just felt like more of a public recognition that you’re on the right track.”

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