AL ASAD, Iraq -- In the solitude of the western Al Anbar province of Iraq, Marines stationed here have the option of going to church services or tuning in a radio to "A Voice In the Wilderness," a religious program brought to service members by the ingenuity of one Naval officer.
Navy Lt. Dan W. Hall, deputy chaplain, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, brought his knowledge, a low-power FM radio transmitter, and his personal computers with the hopes of touching the lives of deployed service members here.
"I have used this system before while ministering in foreign countries," said Hall. "This provides service members and civilians at Al Asad, Iraq, another way to fulfill their spiritual needs."
In a conventional fashion, many service members make their way to chapel services as often as possible, but with the high work tempo needed in Iraq, they are not always able to attend.
"Service members here are very committed to their jobs and mission accomplishment," said Cmdr. Craig G. Muehler, chaplain, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "This will give them the opportunity to listen to religious services or music without taking away from their operational commitments."
When the initial idea came up for the radio station there was a lot of positive feedback from many people that just didn't have the time to make it to services.
"We have had people tell us that they think it is a great idea and they look forward to listening," said Hall, a native of Memphis, Tenn. "This system has the capability to reach more people on this base than the chapel alone."
While manning the system will be totally dependent on volunteers, learning the software and how to run the system should only take about one-week of hands-on training.
"This is a multi-phase program we are trying to establish," said Hall. "One day we hope to actually broadcast live chapel services over the air while they are being held."
Although they are only in the first phase of their plans, the religious personnel aboard this remote air station have their sights set on improving the spiritual life of service members and civilians.
"We have a variety of religious music, devotionals, preaching and other programming that we are sure will be a tremendous aide to the spiritual health of everyone stationed here," said Hall.