Capt. Eric Boyer, RAF Mildenhall chaplain, shows off his hardware after completing the 2004 Air Force Marathon in Ohio.

Capt. Eric Boyer, RAF Mildenhall chaplain, shows off his hardware after completing the 2004 Air Force Marathon in Ohio. (Courtesy of Eric Boyer)

When Capt. Eric Boyer isn’t busy serving as the chaplain at RAF Mildenhall, you can find him pounding the pavement. The avid runner puts in an average of 50 to 60 miles per week.

Boyer, a 1989 graduate of the University of Tennessee, recently chatted about his passions: providing spiritual guidance and hitting the streets to clock a few more miles.

You are 38, but have only been in the Air Force for three years. What did you do prior to your time in the Blue?

I served in the Chaplain Corps in the Army and Army Reserve.

Why did you cross over to the Air Force?

Not to knock the Army because I enjoyed my time there, but the Air Force is more focused on contemporary worship. It tends to be more innovative and that attracted me.

Have you deployed before?

I have deployed to Kosovo and Bosnia. This time next year I may be deployed again. I definitely look forward to that opportunity.

You run nearly as much as I drive each week. How did you get into distance running?

I ran in high school, but in college I became sedentary. I ended up at about 245 pounds. So I started to run a lot in grad school.

And it worked?

I lost 70 pounds in about nine months. The last thing people want to see is another fat preacher.

How has running helped you become a better preacher?

I try to instill what I call “spiritual fitness” in my sermons. It makes sense to me for the airmen and their families to have not only physical fitness, but a sense of spiritual fitness. It gives them the foundation to do whatever they are called upon to do their mission.

Have you noticed any trends in spirituality across the services since Sept. 11, 2001, and the commencement of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Anecdotally, for me, I saw a lot along that line while I served at Air Force basic training. A lot of people came in for deeply spiritual reasons or for some serious personal reason.

What does that mean for the armed forces?

I am not sure, but I know there is a deepening of spirituality that is not tied to any one religion, and I think that’s pretty interesting.

What about you? How has all of this affected you?

It’s difficult to quantify the impact you make. But when someone walks up to you after the service and thanks you for the sermon, you just step back and say, “Wow, I really made a difference today.”

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