By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Colonel Chris Bassett is an Army National Guard chaplain who thankfully functioned as my pastor the first summer I was in Iraq. He was just promoted to his current rank, and my thoughts are that few people deserve it more. Who is this guy? He is an awesome worship leader, a man who would talk about his (then) young kids in sermons and have to stop to regain his composure, a fine soccer player, a deep thinker, someone who had a handle on history, was funny, and a friend to all, Iraqis and Coalition alike.

There are a number of things that I appreciated about him, not the least of which was the fact that he was ready to defend me from treatment by co-workers that bordered on being legally actionable. As I have often said when people ask me what was the hardest thing about being in Iraq, it was not “having neighbors who wanted to store my head in a refrigerator, it was a few co-workers who worked overtime to make my life hell.” Chris was a firsthand observer of some of these actions, and the support I got from him and the rest of the soldiers in his unit gave me the strength to not cave in and head home before “things got really good,” which they did.

Sucking it up certainly paid off; because of Chris, I was able to be a part of the praise and worship team who ministered in what had been Saddam Hussein’s fishing lodge, and that blessing continued for three years, long after they had rotated out. Songs like “Days of Elijah” and “Agnus Dei” have always been favorites, but because of Iraq, they will forever have a special place in my worshipping heart. Chris specifically requested that last time slot available on Sunday nights so we could stay as long as he wanted. The Spirit moved, and we soaked it up as ones who were “in a dry and thirsty land where there’s no water.”

Chris was part of the National Guard that had deployed from Washington state, and amazingly we knew people in common, people who were a part of his church in Bonney Lake. He also was a law enforcement officer in addition to being a pastor and a chaplain. He is happily married and it’s hard to think about his kids being all grown up now. His family has paid a high price for him to do all that he has for God and country, and in typical Chris style, here is what he said on Facebook when he got his promotion:

“It is official. I am now CH (COL) Chris Bassett. Praise and honor belong to God through His Son, Jesus. A million thanks to my wife and kids, who have endured countless weekends without Dad around, and about four total years away on various deployments and AT periods. They deserve much of the credit for my success, and I love seeing them succeed now, as well. I was looking forward to retiring, but since they’re gonna promote me I’ll stick around for a few more. I love our troops, so it really is a blessing.”

He does indeed love our troops, and it makes me glad to know that he is going to still be on hand to shepherd them in the years ahead. From all of us, Colonel Bassett, those who have been with you in the desert and the “Great Northwet,” thank you for your service, and congratulations once again!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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