Stories of Honor: Marlow Carrels — from military chemical officer to chaplain | Local
Carrels returned to Montana in 2011 and became a National Guard commander for the 631st Chemical Company out of Missoula and Anaconda. The unit was in a rebuilding phase and Carrels had to get “younger kids” to understand the significance of their field.
“Chemical in general is one of those things we train for all the time, because if we are doing our job, something extremely serious has happened,” he said. “Unlike the infantry, who is trained to do their job in order to do their job, we are trained for our job in hopes we will never do our job.”
It was during a long conversation with a military colleague that his life veered onto another path.
He had recently read “Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved,” written by Martin Luther in 1526 and given to Carrels by a military chaplain, and got into a long discussion about it.
“It was this weirdly theological conversation of where we are going as soldiers, where the enemy is going as soldiers, are we doing a bad thing, a moral thing,” Carrels said. “A couple of days later he came and talked to me and said, ‘I want you to get out of my Army, go and become a chaplain and come back to us.’”
He dismissed the idea at the time, but a couple of years later, was talking to his wife, Nikki, and said he wanted to get out of active duty, become a chaplain and come back.