Dyess conducts Air Force’s first assumption of the stole
By Senior Airman Mercedes Porter, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 03, 2021
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Chaplain (Maj.) Gabriel Rios, 7th Bomb Wing wing chaplain, was bestowed the stole and title as the 7th Bomb Wing’s wing chaplain by Col. Ed Sumangil, 7th Bomb Wing commander, and Chaplain (Col.) David Kelley, Air Force Global Strike Command command chaplain, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, Mar. 24, 2021.
Much like the tradition of assuming command, assuming the stole – a long, operational camouflaged pattern cloth worn around the neck – signifies the acceptance of responsibility as the new spiritual leader in a new place of service within the U.S. Air Force.
“The stole is a sacred symbol that reminds me, the wearer, that I owe the people what it signifies, such as trust, credibility and hope,” said Rios. “Being the wing chaplain gives me great responsibility.”
As the wing chaplain, Rios has accepted the responsibility to ensure the free exercise of religion; to be the leader of spiritual resiliency efforts across the base in order to build Airmen who are comprehensively fit; to provide faith-based religious support to meet the varied religious needs of Airmen and their families; to partner with off-base religious leaders to provide ministry to Airmen who sit in their pews, synagogues, and mosque; to provide religious advisement to commanders and leaders as to how religion impacts military operations; to faithfully and humbly lead fellow chaplains who server under their own callings from their god; to mold the character of the children of Airmen who attend religious instruction and education; to care for and support Airmen who may never profess any faith; and ultimately to take responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the Dyess community.
“This ceremony, the first within the Air Force chaplain corps, is also a tangible expression of General Ray’s transformation to the striker culture,” said Kelly. “The wing chaplain in Air Force Global Strike Command is called to be an authentic leader, one who leads with a compelling vision, never asks a subordinate to do something he would not do himself, invests in team members by supporting their families, their career ambitions, and their growth as an Airman, as a human being.”
The wing chaplain is also the spiritual advisor and confidante to the wing commander, providing counsel and encouragement during times of stress and uncertainty.
“This is a great day for our base as we participate in this ceremony,” said Sumangil. “The chaplain corps provides services to our community that many of us do not know. From answering midnight calls for an Airman in distress to counseling those with marriage struggles or life changes, our chaplain corps team is all over the base. And now, they celebrate with Chaplain Rios as he assumes the mantle of responsibility of being the spiritual leader of Team Dyess.”
After the assumption prayer was rendered with Rios’ family on stage with him, Rios gave his final words.
“Becoming wing chaplain has always been my goal, so that I can lead the people to serve under their faith and do what is best for the Dyess community,” said Rios. “I feel honored that the Air Force and Col. Sumangil trusts me to do the job, and I’m very thankful for them and my chapel staff.”