by Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
8/25/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- "I
had to preach in body armor while everyone was told to stay low," said
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Donnette Boyd, 31st Fighter Wing chaplain, during a
deployment to Iraq. "But instead of staying low, I chose to stand and
preach because I said to myself, 'If something struck me right now, I
know I was doing what I was called to do.'"
After stumbling into a Reserve Officer Training Corps class during
college, Boyd would soon discover her calling to become an Air Force
chaplain through a love of military history, which would lead her to
enroll and commission into the Air Force in 1987.
During her upbringing, religion and church were not a part of her daily
life; however, she became a strong believer after discovering how to
pray on her own. Throughout college and her first few duty stations, she
was still skeptical about religion.
"I grew up in a drug-infested, gang-infested neighborhood and one day I
discovered the power of prayer," said Boyd. "The gangs didn't beat me
up, I never got into drugs and I honestly believe God was the one who
rescued me throughout every situation."
When Boyd was 26, she was given a choice.
"One day, I kept hearing the voice of God in my head," the chaplain
explained. "I approached a 'Y' in the road of my life and was given the
choice to serve him completely and keep my hand of protection from God,
or live the life I was living. That day, I chose to serve him
This was the first of three calls Boyd experienced during her road to chaplaincy.
Boyd explains the first calling when she was uncertain about how
becoming a Christian would interfere with her social life and her
ability to have fun.
"I didn't think you could have fun and be a Christian. I judged
Christianity based off what I saw in other Christians. Looking back on
my experiences, I have a lot more fun now than before."
Two years later, while Boyd was stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, she had her second calling.
"My second calling was into ministry," Boyd explained. "I kept having
these vivid dreams about preaching, but no direction. My first thoughts
were that I was nervous, scared and I am very shy in front of crowds.
But then I thought, do I worry about man or do I listen to God?"
Boyd explained how she was determined to get a clear answer on what she
needed to do, and if it wasn't right in front of her, she wasn't going
to pursue it. She opened her Bible, opened it to a random page, and the
verse she read had the word "minister" and she took that as a clear sign
Boyd then took her next step and began filling in teaching Bible study at a local church in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Six months later, she received her final call into chaplaincy.
"I remember one night I was praying, by myself, and said 'Lord, someday I
want to become a full-time minister, I don't know how, but I do,' said
Boyd. "I love serving in the Air Force but I also wanted to do ministry
and I did not know how I to do both.
"'You should become a chaplain,' my husband said two days after I asked
the Lord how I could become a full-time minister. He explained to me how
I already preached, counseled people and gave out Bibles and did the
job chaplains do, and I knew that was what I needed to do."
Four years later, Boyd returned to the Air Force as a chaplain and knew this was her calling.
Boyd comes to Aviano after serving various chaplain duties at eight
different locations, including two deployed locations. Her position as
the wing chaplain features her leading the chapel staff and is
responsible for the wing commanders spiritual fitness program for Airmen
Boyd plans to expand the family outreach ministry and to improve off base religious relationships and accommodations.
"For me, religion means one word--relationships," Boyd said. "Religion
is about our relationship with God and how it should reflect on our
relationship with others. We can't say we love God and don't love our
"Looking back, I cannot imagine doing anything else. I can see that this is the path God put me on a long time ago."