Faith: Cannon chaplain retiring

Lt. Col. John Kenyon, 27th Special Operations Wing chaplain, prepares for retirement March 18, 2016, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Kenyon has provided faithful service to the Air Force for 31 years and looks forward to what lies beyond active-duty service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Lt. Col. John Kenyon, 27th Special Operations Wing chaplain, prepares for retirement March 18, 2016, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Kenyon has provided faithful service to the Air Force for 31 years and looks forward to what lies beyond active-duty service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

CLOVIS, N.M. -- After 31 and a half years of service, Lt. Col. John Kenyon is retiring as 27th Special Operations Wing chaplain at Cannon Air Force Base.

Kenyon, the chaplain at Cannon since 2013, will be honored with an intimate gathering in early April and will officially retire July 1.

Kenyon said the ceremony will be “short, sweet and to the point.”

“I am not one for pomp and circumstance,” he said.

Kenyon may want a brief commemoration, but his career is one that spans decades.

He began his military career in 1985. After Officer Training School, he flew in Strategic Air Command, in which he was a navigator on B-52 bombers for about six years. He then continued in the reserves as a navigator on C-130s for another four years.

“And then the good Lord called me into the Chaplain Corps,” Kenyon said.

Kenyon crossed over into the Chaplain Corps in 1995 and became an active-duty chaplain four years later. Since then, Kenyon has advised, assisted and counseled military members.

He said his most memorable point in his career was serving at Arlington National Cemetery from 2002 to 2004.
Kenyon said he has enjoyed taking care of issues that have come up for people and helping them with those needs.

“Usually at a higher rank, you have the ability to talk to many people, and a lot of times you can help them navigate through those waters,” he said.

The chaplain also provides religious services for people on base, regardless of their faith.

“We neutralize here,” Kenyon said; meaning the chapel is inclusive of various religious practices — and of those who are not religious.

According to him, as a chaplain, he also deploys on a fairly regular basis, aiding in issues that may arise overseas and providing First Amendment rights to troops down range.

“It has been kind of neat — the book casing on both ends for me — to be able to have served in that capacity and now serving those who are serving in this capacity.”

Kenyon’s peers agree he will be missed when he retires.

“He is 10 to 15 years before his time,” said Tech. Sgt. Sean Finley, 27th SOW chaplain assistant. “As far as his way of thinking and where the Chaplain Corps is at, I think he is amazing.”

Senior Airman Nicholas Williams, 16th Special Operations Squadron aerial gunner noted that Kenyon is arguably the most genuine person he has ever met; adding that Kenyon is incredible.

“As soon as he walks in the door, you know he is there — he just has that kind of presence,” he said.

Kenyon mentioned he and his family have no materialized plans for how he will spend his retirement.

“I am going to let the Lord decide that for us as we go forward,” he said.