Student Spotlight: Caleb Winey Earns Medal of Achievement
These are all descriptions bestowed upon Faith student Caleb Winey by the United States Air Force in an Outstanding Achievement Award letter that was presented to him on September 10, 2019.
It’s likely the first time a current Faith student has ever been given a medal of achievement from the United States Air Force. The award is so rare, in fact, that only two percent of enlistees ever earn it.
Caleb wasn’t looking to achieve an award the day a distraught officer caught his attention. He was simply displaying compassion and concern for a fellow soldier and putting into practice some basic Biblical principles that he has learned at Faith Baptist Bible College.
Winey was on a mission in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, when the event occurred.
“I was seated at the table when a high ranking officer came and sat next to me,” said Winey. “He was very quiet and didn’t say anything when we first sat down. After a few minutes had passed, he asked where the chaplain was, and we looked and saw that he was talking with someone else. Then I asked him what was wrong or if everything was ok. He didn’t really respond to me. I explained that I was going to school to become a chaplain. He asked what classes I was taking and after a short story about my classes, he looked at me and said, ‘well, you can practice on me.’”
Caleb and the officer moved to a private area where Caleb listened to the officer’s story. The officer was angry at a situation with another person and wanted to quit. He told Caleb several solutions he was considering.
“His solutions were very extreme, and I knew they would create further problems,” said Caleb. “At this point, I was begging the Lord for wisdom in how to give advice. After he told his story, I asked him if he had tried to talk to the individual about the issue. He said he had and that was why he was so angry because it wasn’t working. My advice was to try and keep the problem as low-scale as possible. I recommended trying to talk with the individual again, and that it was possible he didn’t understand or didn’t get the point.”
After the officer agreed with Caleb to address the issue one more time, he prayed with him. The following day, his prayers were answered.
“The next day after lunch, the officer came to me and the chaplain, and he was very happy,” said Caleb. “He informed us that the talk had helped and that I had given him good advice and the problem had been fixed. He said he was praising God and thankful for us being there and helping him.”
Caleb had no idea that his actions and compassion on a high-ranking officer had not only de-escalated a potentially harmful situation, but that they would later earn him a medal of distinction.
Winey was given the award at Camp Dodge in Des Moines during a four-day training session with chaplains from across the state of Iowa.
“The commander came down and told me the Air Force had approved a medal for me,” said Caleb. “The Air Force Achievement Medal is really, really rare, especially on the enlisted side. The Lord put me in that situation. There was no way my wisdom was good enough. It was all the Holy Spirit.”
Caleb is a junior at Faith and is pursuing a degree in organizational leadership. He is originally from Perry, Iowa. Caleb said his knowledge from his Introduction to Bible and Bible Doctrine courses were helpful in his counseling situation. After he graduates, he plans to attend seminary and then become a full-time chaplain.
Here is the official wording on the Air Force Achievement Medal certificate that was presented to Caleb on September 10, 2019, by the United States Air Force:
“Specialist Caleb P. Winey distinguished himself by outstanding achievement in support of the Innovative Readiness Training mission, Ola de Esperanza 2019. During this period, Specialist Winey exhibited exceptional professionalism, motivation, and spiritual leadership during execution of spiritual support as a member of the Mayaguez, Puerto Rico site of care team. He was a stalwart Religious Support Team member who assisted in developing and executing a comprehensive spiritual resilience care plan in support of 75 joint military service members. Specialist Winey’s empathy, training, and skill was especially evident when he intervened to provide compassionate care to a distraught service member in the chaplain’s absence. These contributions directly contributed to the overall success of the Innovative Readiness Training. The distinctive accomplishments of Specialist Winey reflect credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”