Chaplain’s Corner

Jim Bettison
MT 85-89 Blue


Chaplain’s 9/11 20th Anniversary Message

As the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks draws closer, I’ve been thinking about all the lives destroyed so senselessly and I’ve reflected on the courage of the First Responders who charged into buildings and up stairwells to save others.

We trust in God. It is He who grants victory and defeat. It is He who humbles the proud and exalts the humble. It is He who gives us the man who stands in the gap when all others flee and wring their hands.

Maybe that man didn’t have the ambition to become someone of prominence, or the pedigree to stair-step him to fame, or the capital to propel him to affluence. Maybe he didn’t have the looks or talent that would exalt him as a star, or the wherewithal to get himself a fancy degree and a corner office. But when evil came and the leaders and prominent people were frozen with fear, that’s when he sprang into action. God gives us our First Responders.

Self-preservation and fear tell us to run away from danger. Wisdom tells us to run toward it. It is God who has given us our First Responders.
You my shipmates are First Responders. Some of you have served as firemen, policemen, paramedics, and other First Responder roles, but even if you haven’t served in such a capacity, I give you a sharp submariner salute. When things go wrong, when things look bad, when our rulers invite destruction upon us, it is you who run into the fray.

I am grateful that we served. It is God who blessed the world with you – you First Responders are the light in the darkness for those you help. May we never forget that there were many such lights in the darkness on September 11th, 2001. The firefighters, police, and rescue workers who risked their lives and even gave their lives running into the fray to save others are true heroes!

May we never forget.

Jim Bettison, Chaplain
John C. Calhoun Veterans Association


Chaplain’s Hurricane Season Message

Shipmates, as I write, Hurricane Delta, with its 115 mph winds, is 130 miles SSW of Cameron, Louisiana, and moving northward at around 13 mph. We’ve had a record tropical storm season this year.

I urge you to pray that Delta would weaken and dissipate. Pray also for those in the path of the storm – to strengthen their backs and shoulders as well as their resolve to press on through this calamity to the calm that lay on the other side.

If you know of fellow shipmates and their families that have been affected by previous storms or that may be impacted by Hurricane Delta, please contact them and report to the JCCVA.

If you are able to respond to the distresses and destruction that these storms leave in their wakes and bring assistance in recovery and rescue efforts, I urge you to do so, and again, report to the JCCVA.

These literal storms happen too frequently as do other kinds of storms we experience in life. We all face unwelcome misfortunes, tragedies, and challenges. I pray we would remain courageous in the face of all adversity, resolved to meet all challenges with determination, and emerge shining like gold after we have gained the victory.

A sharp salute from me to you and may God bless you.

Fair winds and following seas,
Jim Bettison
JCCVA Chaplain



Fellow Brothers,

The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is upon us. We all remember where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the news. We still remember, to some degree, how we felt at that moment on that day because the feelings never entirely left us.

When things like terrorist attacks, hurricanes, school shootings, or protest riots happen, some blame God, some turn against Him, and others blame the government, the president, community organizers, etc. It’s part of our nature to blame. Psychiatrists say it’s a way of seeking relief from their fear, and they suggest blaming doesn’t help us much.

But fear is a thing. When tragic things happen and terrible times come, all too many live in fear. And of course, others use every crisis – particularly people’s fear – as a political tool.

I urge all my fellow brothers of the ‘phin who punched holes in the ocean on the Calhoun, suffering quals, hot-racking, ORSEs, NTPIs, overhauls, sea trials, DASOs, OTs, turnovers, refits, field days, mid-rats, angles & dangles, mid-watches, and “toilet mishaps”, to not tolerate fear.

The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to his co-worker Timothy. The second letter, written shortly before Paul was executed, is the one we call Second Timothy. In it, Paul wrote this: “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NET)

He made us bold and strong, although there were indeed a few of us who were light on the self-control part! ;-} This love that Paul mentions is not the gushy, romantic or infatuation-type of love we see in chick-flicks. It means caring about other people and putting their needs before your own.

Some of our brothers came from well-to-do homes, while others grew up in more modest environments. Some were from intact families, while others were from broken ones.

Some of our brothers identify with Democrats, others with Republicans, some are in between; some are conservative, some libertarian, and others are liberal.

Some of our brothers have dark skin, some white, and others are somewhere in between. (I returned from patrols a pale translucent blue!)

Some of our brothers are Christians, some are Muslims, some are atheists, and others are little of everything.

Nevertheless, every single one of us bubbleheads signed on the dotted line and volunteered for subs. We knew it was dangerous, and we didn’t do it to get a discount on home improvement purchases. We became brothers. We had each other’s backs. We mocked, ribbed, humiliated, and pranked one another into a well-oiled machine and we knew we could trust each shipmate to keep his $#!+ together and put the needs of the crew and indeed the needs of the nation before his own. It’s what we did and who we were.

It is my hope and prayer that you remember that terrible day when terrorists flew planes into us. Remember, and do not forget. Raise a glass to those who fell simply because they went to work as usual.

Raise a mug to the first-responders who fell in their endeavors to rescue the victims.

Just like those victims and first-responders on 9/11, we never know when our time will come. Gather your families, loved ones, and dear friends together and tell them that they matter to you.

It is my hope and prayer that you neither blame nor fear, for you, my brothers, are bold and strong.

It is my hope and prayer that you continue to love – keeping your $#!+ together and putting others’ needs ahead of your own.

I’ll close with something Paul wrote to the church in Corinth.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV)

A sharp salute from me to you. God bless you – fair winds and following seas.

Best Regards,
James Bettison
JCCVA Chaplain


Hurricane Dorian Message from your Chaplain

Shipmates, as I write this, Hurricane Dorian is a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds around 145 mph. She is currently approaching the eastern coast of Florida and appears to be curving northward. As you know, these destructive storms are rather unpredictable in spite of our modern meteorological systems and models.

I urge you to pray that the storm may dissipate. Pray also for those in the path of the storm – to strengthen their backs and shoulders as well as their resolve to press on through this calamity to the calm that lay on the other side.

I urge you to contact fellow shipmates and their families that may be affected by Dorian and report to JCCVA.

I urge those of you who are relatively near and able to respond to the distresses, hazards, and destruction that the storm will leave behind to put your wisdom, guts, and expertise to work to assist in rescue and recovery efforts.

Natural disasters like this happen in life in addition to many other types of unwelcome challenges, tragedies, and hardships. May we forever be found courageous in the face of such adversity, and refined by the fires of affliction to meet each new day better men than we were before.

A sharp salute from me to you. God bless you – fair winds and following seas.

Best Regards,
James Bettison
JCCVA Chaplain


Veterans Day 2018 Message from your Chaplain

Veterans Day is a national holiday in the U.S.A. which honors all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is not to be confused with Memorial Day, which is a day set aside explicitly for the remembrance and honor of veterans who have died in military service, or with Armed Forces Day, a day which honors those who have are actively serving in the U.S. Military.

I hope that you will celebrate Veterans Day this November 11th. Host a get-together with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, raise a toast, lead a prayer, give a short speech, even, but do something where you have the opportunity to bear witness to what you and others have done to serve our nation.

As for me, I wear my Calhoun cap nearly everywhere. I am proud to have served on this boat, thrilled to have the memories I possess, and honored to have served with you, my fellow life-takers, heart-breakers, steely-eyed killers of the deep, particularly those of you with more time in the head at test depth than I.

A sharp salute from me to you. God bless you – fair winds and following seas.

Best Regards,
James Bettison
JCCVA Chaplain


Our hearts and prayers go out to those who are in the cross-hairs of Hurricane Florence along the coastline of the Carolinas, especially our fellow Calhoun Shipmates and their families. I pray the Lord God Almighty will grant them wisdom and protection. In times of adversity, when things are at their worst, I hope that we, above all others, will shine, demonstrating our brotherhood’s fortitude, resilience, and determination.

Please inform the JCCVA if you, or a shipmate and his family, suffer the negative impacts of this storm.

Best Regards,
James Bettison
JCCVA Chaplain

Shipmates and First-mates and families –

We are in the midst of a week- long 2014 commemoration of the sacrifices men and women of our Nation have made to support and uphold our Constitution defending Freedom in our land.

I have found that some years I have allowed complacency and laziness to set in on previous Veterans Days, BUT I find this 2014 event to be very poignant and special.

We take the time on Veterans Day to reflect back on our knowledge of the founding events, the Revolutionary War in which we broke the hold of the British oppressors to gain our First taste of National Freedom, the World Wars, again to assure freedom from Foreign oppressors, and now, we are fighting a Domestic Enemy to keep our rights and freedoms once again.

Who’d have thought that we would be concerned about our children’s and grandchildren’s future freedoms, but here we are.

So, we’d like to thank you all for your family’s contributions and sacrifices this 2014 Veterans’ Day. Our Fraternal Organization, USSJCCVA, exists for you as a place to celebrate Freedom and remember the times during the Cold War when the Johnny “C” plied the depths, bounced off icebergs, and provided a formidable platform doing its part as a “Defender of Freedom.”

Uncomfortably, now, we are charged by previous oath to return to action in our local areas.

As your Chaplain, please allow me to share the following with you. I trust it will re-emphasize how important it is that we strive toward the Goal together.

A Prayer for Veterans Day

We thank you, Lord, for our military veterans. Through them you have provided us with blessings that people around the world envy. But the presence of our veterans also remind us of your warning that wars and rumors of war will continue until the end of time. In your mercy, keep war from our shores, and frustrate the plans of all those who would cause us terror.

Lord of the Nations, we ask that you would continue to bless our country with men and women who are willing to go to distant and dangerous places to protect us from those who would do us harm. We pray that you will continue to bless us with veterans who offer faithful and selfless service.

Be with our veterans as they return home and continue their march through life—especially those wounded in body or spirit. May they receive the support and care they deserve for their sacrifice. Protect them from the ambush of sin and the firepower of Satan. Give them the health and strength they need to carry out the missions in life that you have laid before them. Lord, be their shield and strength, their guide and their rearguard, Give to them the peace that surpasses all understanding as they place their trust in Jesus.

When their tour of duty in this world is over, give them the order to come home. Bring them to where there are no more wars. Grant unto them this blessing: when we are listening to taps being played over their graves, may they be listening to the joyous trumpet call of God and the music of heaven’s choirs. Grant this for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

December, 2010

Merry Christmas, Shipmates,

A few weeks ago, our oldest girl had all her Christmas gifts stolen from her car trunk that she had purchased for her husband and our small grandson. Living in a small house, she didn’t have a place inside to store the packages, so the car trunk was, seemingly, her only option. Most people would have come apart when faced with such a devastating event, but, I am glad to say that her faith and her friends and family have helped her and her husband get through this experience. And, that family is going to be better for the challenge because of the ready response and prayers of loved ones and friends.

We’ve all been through similar life tests and this past year was no different for many of us. But, shipmates are family and I, like you, am grateful that according to His higher plan for us, we were called to serve together on board the finest of the 41 for Freedom missile boats years ago. Looking back, faith got us through and has brought us to this point together to once again celebrate and commemorate Christ’s birthday.

So, as you reflect on your many memories this Christmas Season, with loved ones and friends, take a minute to dwell on the many blessings you have been freely given, your health, your provisions, and future.

Marni and I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas 2010 and Blessed New Year in 2011. We look forward to hearing from you throughout the coming year.



Greetings Shipmates and Firstmates.

Annually, our Nation celebrates Veterans Day during which we acknowledge the sacrifices individuals and families made in the past and make daily, on and off foreign soil, that we can enjoy the Inalienable rights that are given to us by God, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. We all know first hand that these rights and freedoms are often paid for at the supreme price of a precious life. Blood that is shed so that we sleep soundly at night; Limbs that are lost so that another may live to fight on; Sight that is sacrificed so that a buddy might see the sunset another day; Months away from loved ones, regular career jobs, and comforts of home and little ones so that America may live on.

Only a small fraction of our citizenry today recognizes the Price of Freedom. So, I want to thank you all this Veteran’s Day for your sacrifice and for your families’ contributions so that we all can look forward to this special observance every year to come.

This morning, I met a young soldier in the pews who, after rehabbing from a Taliban’s bullets, came home to be with his Dad and Mom – to reassure them and us that the effort is worth the price. “Freedom is worth the price”, were his humble words. To the surprise and question of many, he is anxious to return to the theater this week, on Veteran’s Day 2009. Blushing, he pushed aside the usual accolades to thank us Veterans for walking the path seldom chosen before him, so that others may enjoy their full potential.We shared the Scriptures Jere 29:11-13. “For I know the Plans I have for you. Plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

I couldn’t avoid the visual memory of the sign at the entrance of the Cheyenne, WY, VA Medical Center, “The Price of Freedom is on display here”.

I’ve been reading the Founding Fathers a lot, lately, and came across one of the many dispatches recorded by George Washington, in May 1774 just after the Boston Tea Party, that has very timely application today. I wanted to share it with you.

On June 1, 1774, he wrote in his diary, “Went to church and fasted all day”.A few days later, he wrote,”The British ministry may rely on it that Americans will never be taxed without their own consent; that the cause of Boston – the despotic measures in respect to it, I mean – now is and ever will be considered as the cause of America (not that we approve their conduct in destroying the tea); and that we shall not suffer ourselves to be sacrificed by piecemeal, though God only knows what is to become of us …while those from whom we have a right to seek protection are endeavoring by every piece of art and despotism to fix the shackles of slavery upon us”.

Our Country is at crossroads, again, and will again depend on its Veterans to navigate these heavy seas to protect our future generations from the “despots who would fix on us the shackles of slavery”.

Shipmates, my message is to stay vigilant and stand up for what we know is right. Like the young man headed back to Afghanistan, find an opportunity to thank those who have walked the path seldom chosen before us.
Find another Vet to thank for his/her service – it’s amazingly contagious.
Blessings and THANKS to you and yours on this 2009 Veterans’ Day.

Jim Magin, Chaplain
USS John C. Calhoun, SSBN 630, Veterans Association

I want to thank all you for your support during this transition period as I assume responsibilities as Chaplain of our USS John C. Calhoun, SSBN 630, Veterans Association. It is an honor to be asked to shepherd such a distinguished assembly of mighty men and their loved ones. I accept it humbly and nervously. But with the certainty that the goal is worth pressing on toward. What an exciting “bond” we share as the Calhoun family, brought together from many small towns and big cities by Providential appointment, to have served aboard the mighty steel warrior , USS John C. Calhoun. Over her 30 years of dependable service to stealthfully protecting the Freedom that Our Country stands firm for and the basis on which it was founded, we were successful in deterring the aggression of the time. We helped win the Cold War.

It is that “bond” that has and will continue to link us still wherever we are and whatever the circumstances in this life. My purpose in serving you is to connect that “bond” we share to our future life’s assignments, joys and sorrows, and on into eternity. I trust you won’t let each other down as we continue to get sigs on lifes’ Qual Sheets toward the ultimate Pinning – On Ceremony. Please feel free to use this connection to express your thoughts, needs, and feelings as we proceed.

So, let’s get after the task at hand.

Let me first of all publicly express the appreciation and BZ’s (do you think there’ll be BZ’s in heaven?) for a great job well done by our outgoing Chaplain, Kevin O’Brien and for his many years of faithful service. You have been the mainstay, the wind under the wings, for our group throughout its formative years. We sincerely thank you for your effort and dedication for this Watch and pray that your future assignments and duties will be smooth and according to the POD. I pledge the continued support and resources of our “bond of brothers” as you and your family sail new courses. Keep us posted, Kevin, as you venture forward in His service. We celebrate your service.

Here’s an article that should bring encouragement to us, authored by Chuck Swindoll.


“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Carry on!

Respectfully submitted,

Jim Magin
USS John C. Calhoun, SSBN 630 Veterans Association