DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas. —
“Oh my gosh… this is happening.”
Everyone was gathered around the television as a family, sharing prayers and tears while the world changed in a matter of seconds. The collective hopes of a catastrophic mistake shattered, confirming what they all knew deep down. “We’re at war.”
“I remember watching the news as the second tower was hit,” said Maj. Matthew Clouse, 7th Bomb Wing deputy chaplain assistant, holding back tears. “I remember that agonizing feeling of watching as people were jumping from the tower and the pain as the World Trade Centers crumbled.”
Maj. Clouse had no desires to join the military when he finished college in his early twenties. Shortly after entering seminary, Clouse experienced what he referred to as his generations Pearl Harbor.
“I had the thought: ‘Is this the end or the start?’,” he said.
After some praying, a handful of conversations with U.S. Army chaplains who he was attending seminary with and a series of confirmations, he felt a heavy pull towards the military. “This felt like a calling and, spiritually, I felt like I was being redirected.”
Growing up, Maj. Clouse was surrounded by decorated veterans, who gladly shared their military experiences and accomplishments with him. As a young boy growing up in Oklahoma, he spent many days with his patriotic relatives who served during conflicts ranging from World War II to the Vietnam War.
“I grew up in this environment of military members and was very proud of all of them. My uncle was an aircraft maintainer during Vietnam, both of my grandfathers served, and I had a great uncle who was in the Army Air Corps during WWII,” he said. “When I was feeling called to serve, I was feeling pulled towards counseling, and that’s when I realized that I had been surrounded by the spiritual and psychological nature of the warfighter my whole life.”
Clouse recalled the delight that he took as an adolescent as he listened to the stories of those relatives that he grew so proud of. For hours, he would listen, captivated by their reality, experiences, accomplishments and adversity.
“I remember talking to my great uncle, who truly embodied the mentality of the age,” said Clouse. “He was a Great Depression era baby, he was very modest, even with everything he accomplished during the war, he would always say, ‘We were just doing our job.’
“Growing up around that, that’s my ancestry,” he continued. “Through the generations, someone in my family has been a part of the team, it’s a family way for us.”
Clouse explained that, for him, the Chaplain Corps feels like a calling to incorporate his desire to help people with his deeply rooted military heritage.
“I think there’s another layer for us in the Chaplain Corps,” said Clouse. “Being a chaplain, I walk with people during their best day and their worst. That’s a big responsibility and I don’t take it lightly. Being a chaplain, it’s always been more than a job to me, it’s a calling. That same passion that I came in with, that feeling from 21 years ago on September 11th, I still feel it.”