Capt. David Sivret, along with five other chaplains, serves 5,000 soldiers.

PORTLAND (AP) – One of the first to respond after an ambush by Iraqi insurgents that killed a Maine soldier was the only one in his unit who doesn’t carry a weapon.

Capt. David Sivret, an Episcopal priest from Calais, is chaplain for the Maine National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion, whose members were part of a convoy that was attacked in Mosul on Tuesday.

Spc. Christopher Gelineau of Portland was killed and Spc. Craig Ardry of Pittsfield was wounded and is recovering at a military hospital in Baghdad.

When Sivret heard over the radio that the convoy was calling for a medical evacuation helicopter, he raced back to his office, put on his helmet and tactical vest and drove a Humvee to a field hospital at nearby Camp Diamondback.

“They had just landed and (Gelineau and Ardry) had just gotten into the emergency room,” Sivret said.

The two were then flown to the hospital in Baghdad, where Gelineau was pronounced dead.

“I held their left arms as they were being put onto the choppers,” he added. “And I prayed with them.”

The chaplain has met individually with the surviving soldiers who were attacked and this weekend will gather with them for a closed, mandatory debriefing.

“Shedding a few tears helps,” said Sivret. “There are those guys still today who, you know, are macho and are not supposed to cry,” he said. “But I shed my tears (Tuesday) and I’m sure I will again as I think about this situation.”

Sivret, who is 48, is one of five clergy spread across Camp Marez and neighboring Camp Diamondback, serving an estimated 5,000 soldiers attached to northern Iraq’s Task Force Olympia.

Sivret, the only one of the 500-plus soldiers in his battalion who doesn’t carry a weapon, serves as spiritual guide for soldiers of varied denominations, mental-health counselor and “morale officer” for the 133rd.

One of his jobs has been to screen troops before they embark on difficult assignments, such as searching for mass graves.

Back home in Maine, Sivret was the new pastor of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Calais, Christ Church in Eastport and St. Luke’s summer chapel in Woodland before the call to war uprooted him in November.

AP-ES-04-22-04 1121EDT



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