Marines

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Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben, the 18th chaplain of the Marine Corps and the deputy chief of Navy chaplains, speaks during a luncheon at the Ball Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, recently. Kibben is the first female chaplain of the Marine Corps.

Photo by Cpl. Jo Jones

First female chaplain of the Marine Corps visits Lejeune

29 Sep 2010 | Cpl. Jo Jones

Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben has been taking care of Marines and sailors since 1986.  Having served as a chaplain with various Marine Corps and Navy units for the past 24 years, the Princeton Theological Seminary graduate was a prime candidate for a new top senior leadership position within the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

In July 2010, Kibben assumed her duties as the 18th chaplain of the Marine Corps, making her the first female to serve in this role.  She was also appointed as the deputy chief of Navy chaplains.

“She represents everything that we think the Chaplain Corps ought to represent,” said Navy Capt. Lawrence P. Greenslit, command chaplain of II Marine Expeditionary Force.  “She is mature, well-spoken, intelligent, and she has a good grasp of strategic issues.  Yet her focus is always on taking care of Marines and sailors.  That is what we do, and that is her focus and her mission.  She also takes care of the chaplains and (religious program specialists) who work within the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.”

One of the ways Kibben accomplishes her mission is by visiting Marines and sailors at their respective installations.  She most recently visited Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 27 through 30. 

During her four-day tour, Kibben met with a number of people such as the Marines and sailors of Wounded Warrior Battalion – East, family members and Chaplain's Religious Enrichment Development Operations personnel.  She also talked to chaplains who recently returned from combat tours; she listened to their stories, conveyed her appreciation for their hard work and sacrifices and offered them encouragement.  Additionally, Kibben attended a luncheon at the Ball Center aboard Camp Lejeune where she met with chaplains and RPs who hailed from various East Coast installations, and addressed their concerns.

Kibben, who once served as a chaplain with 2nd Force Service Support Group, now 2nd Marine Logistics Group, aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, said she enjoyed seeing first-hand the camaraderie and teamwork between Marines, sailors, chaplains and RPs.

“My trip here has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Kibben, a Warrington, Pa., native.  “I am so enthused about the ministry that is being done here, and I’m excited about the support the commanders are providing to their chaplains and RPs.”

Senior Chief Petty Officer Christine Giampa, the senior RP assigned to II MEF, said it was encouraging for the chaplains and RPs to see their senior leader visit during a time when many of them are preparing for their deployments to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  She said Kibben, who served as the command chaplain for Combined Forces Command Afghanistan in 1996, stressed the importance of teamwork, a concept that would boost morale and save lives while fighting the war on terrorism.

“She’s all about the team,” said Giampa.  “We’re in it together with the Marines and the mission at hand.  The overall mission is to win the war and get everybody back home safe and sound.”

Although gender was not a deciding factor in the decision to appoint Kibben to her current positions, Giampa said women serving in senior leadership roles sends a strong message to future leaders – both men and women.

“There’s nothing you can’t achieve,” said Giampa.  “It opens up a lot of career paths, not only for women but for (everyone).  It broadens everyone’s thinking.  Being the first female chaplain of the Marine Corps is truly a blessing and something unique and diverse.”

Kibben attributed her success to her predecessors – both male and female – and said she was excited to be a part of a team that helped so many people.

“The opportunity to serve, regardless of my gender, is an incredible honor that just overwhelms me,” said Kibben.  “To serve as a woman in this particular role, it’s on the shoulders of a number of people who have gone before me, both men and women.  Both have understood the diversity, the gifts and the characteristics that make a person able to serve in a leadership role, regardless of gender or ethnicity.  All of this is because of them.”

Greenslit, who has known Kibben for 25 years, said he had no doubt she would be successful for the next few years.

“I just want to say how proud we, in the Navy Chaplain Corps, are of Chaplain Kibben,” reiterated Greenslit.  “We are so glad to have her here.  I’ve known her for 25 years, and she is not just one of the finest chaplains that I know, but also one of the finest individuals.   We are proud of her, her accomplishments and who she is.”