Chaplains of the
36th Infantry Division
Chaplain (Colonel) Herbert E. MacCombie
Transferring Chaplain Hall
The day that I
came back from the hospital I found that a serious problem had come up
during my absence. The first man I met upon my return was the Special
Service Officer. He told me, “You sure are in trouble with the 142nd.”
I asked Chaplain
Roemer what had happened.
Services Officer had secured some pornographic motion pictures. When they
were shown in the 142nd Infantry, Chaplain Phinney protested to the
Colonel Lynch told
him, “I expected you to protest, but I am the commanding officer, and we
will continue to show the pictures”.
was not satisfied. He talked with Chaplain Hall who suggested that they
contact the Division Chaplain. They came to headquarters and told their
story to Chaplain Roemer, who said, “I don’t know what we can do, but I do
know what Chaplain MacCombie would do, if he were here. He would discuss
the problem with the division commander”.
They reported the
problem to General Walker. He immediately ordered that the pictures be
impounded. They were not to be shown again within the division. This
action had infuriated the Special Services Officer and Colonel Lynch.
They could do nothing about their frustration except be angry at the
In order to try
and smooth things, I went to see Colonel Lynch.
He told me, “I do
not like any chaplain going over my head. The pictures weren’t bad. You
probably would have enjoyed them. I can’t understand Chaplain Phinney.
He is not like a good Catholic chaplain. He is more like a hard-shelled
I informed him
that I was a Baptist and that we were simply trying to carry out the
policy of the Division Commander. He was still not happy.
About this time
Chaplain Phinney had to be evacuated as unfit physically for combat duty.
Colonel Lynch requested the transfer of Chaplain Hall. General Walker
discussed the matter with me. I recommended against the transfer, because
Chaplain Phinney and Chaplain Hall had been carrying out the policy, which
had been laid down by him.
He said, “If I
leave him there, he will have an uncomfortable time with a commanding
officer who does not want him.”
I assured the
general that Chaplain Hall could take it.
Later on Colonel
Lynch called his three chaplains for conference. He told them that they
were forbidden to contact the Division Chaplain. I referred the problem
to the Commanding General through the Chief of Staff. Colonel Lynch was
ordered to clarify his order to chaplains so that they would know that
they could contact the Division Chaplain, but that they should take up
matters affecting the command with the unit commander before asking for
action from the Division Commander. It seemed to be a good time to
transfer Chaplain Hall.
I remembered how
enjoyable my service for twelve years with the artillery had been.
Chaplain Hall was an Episcopalian. General Hess, the artillery commander
at that time, was also an Episcopalian. It seemed to be a good
combination and such an assignment would compensate Chaplain Hall for
being transferred from a unit which he had served so long. Colonel
Matlock stated that while the artillery would dislike losing Chaplain Cox,
General Hess would concur in whatever the Division Commander desired to
do. The transfers of Chaplain Hall and Chaplain Cox were approved.
Some months later
Colonel Lynch said to me, “You see I can get along with my chaplains.”
At that time he
had one Roman Catholic chaplain and two Baptist chaplains.
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by Mary MacCombie Fietsam
Printed by Permission