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Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award Given to Seminary Graduate

Cdr. Anne Krekelberg

CAMP FALLUJAH, IRAQ (July 7, 2008) – The U.S. Navy has honored Cdr. Anne Krekelberg, a 1986 graduate of North Park Theological Seminary, with the prestigious Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award.

The award is presented annually to an officer who has “shown exceptional leadership over time and persevered to overcome challenges while serving” and “whose ideals and dedication led to the integration of women into the regular Navy.”

Ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church, Krekelberg has served in a number of positions from being the command chaplain on the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship, to her current position as a regimental chaplain on the ground in Fallujah.

Krekelberg had herself assigned to her current position with the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment so that she could do one last tour in Iraq before retiring. She will retire August 1.

Krekelberg did not even know she had been nominated. “I received an email from a friend of mine at the Pentagon who knows everything. It simply said ‘Congratulations’ with a message from Navy Personnel Command listing the awardees,” Chaplain Krekelberg said. “My first reaction was ‘What?’ Why would I be nominated for the Joy Bright Hancock Award?”

Her superior, Capt. Robert McLean, 22nd NCR’s Commander, nominated her. He noted that among her many achievements, Krekelberg was the first female chaplain to serve on an amphibious assault ship. “It also reflects her leadership within the Naval Construction Force, serving as the first regimental chaplain - male or female - to deploy to Camp Bucca, Iraq, in support of Navy Provisional Detainee Battalion TWO, and her current deployment here with us in Iraq in support of Multi National Force-West.”

In a career filled with challenging operational assignments, tours where she had a direct impact on the career paths of fellow chaplains, and an assignment providing counseling and ministry in an extremely demanding and highly stressful environment, it is the daily interaction with people she says she values the most.

“Overall, the most rewarding experience throughout my career has been the relationships,” Krekelberg says. “Everyone has a story. If you listen closely enough, everyone’s story is important, unique and fascinating, no matter who they are or what they’ve done with their life.”

Capt. Joy Bright Hancock was a veteran of both the First and Second World Wars and was one of the first women officers in the United States Navy. She retired from active duty in June 1953.