On February 4, 2022, members of the Virginia Society, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) had the honor of participating in the promotion ceremony for Chaplain (Lt. Col.) J. Mark Morgan to the rank of colonel. The Colonel William Grayson Chapter co-sponsored the ceremony. The ceremony was held at the historic Pohick Church in Lorton, Virginia. Pohick was the first permanent church in the colony to be established north of the Occoquan River, sometime prior to 1724 and is where George Washington frequently attended services. The presiding officer over the ceremony was Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Thomas L. Solhjem, 25th Chief of Chaplains, United States Army.
Chaplain Morgan, who is assigned to the Department of the Army staff, enlisted in the United States Army in 1988 at the age of 20. After completing basic training, he received a two-year Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship at the University of North Alabama. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps, eventually entering active duty in the Chemical Corps. In 1997, he resigned his commission to pursue full time ministry. He graduated from the University of North Alabama with a Bachelor of Science and then from Oral Roberts University with a Master of Divinity in 2006. He was endorsed as a chaplain by the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches and reentered active duty as a member of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps.
The ceremony began with SAR compatriot Leamon Duncan (Master Sgt., USA, Ret.) as master of ceremonies portraying his ancestor Private Gerard Green who fought at the Battle of Yorktown. An opening procession was led by William “Bill” Schwetke escorting Chaplain Solhjem and Dale Corey escorting Chaplain Morgan to their positions of honor. Chaplain Morgan with his brothers Tony and David led the singing of the National Anthem. Sentinels from the SAR were David Cook, Forrest Crain, Thomas “Chip” Daniel, Allan Phillips and Michael Weyler.
The Reverend Thomas Costa participating in colonial attire with his wife Susan, portrayed the Reverend Lee Massey, Rector to the Pohick Church. He gave a brief history of the church and the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. The Chaplain Corps is one of the oldest and smallest branches of the Army. The corps dates to 29 July 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized one chaplain for each regiment of the Continental Army, with pay equaling that of a captain. In addition to chaplains serving in Continental regiments, many militia regiments counted chaplains among their ranks. Chaplain Solhjem presided over the reading of the orders and the pinning on the rank of colonel by Chaplain Morgan’s wife, Tracey, and their daughter, Brittany.
Members of the Virginia SAR came from across Virginia to support the ceremony. SAR support to the ceremony aligns with one of the National Society’s Patriotic Goals to support our Veterans who sacrifice so much in the service to our great Nation. SAR support for the event was organized and led by Leamon Duncan, Colonel William Grayson Chapter. Supporting compatriots included Mike Weyler, Colonel William Grayson; William (Bill) Schwetke, Culpeper Minutemen; Dale Corey, Allan Phillips, and Thomas “Chip” Daniels, Colonel James Wood II; and David Cook and Forrest Crain, Fairfax Resolves.