Willard Bartlett had a long career in the military, divided into two terms of service. As a teenager, he joined the Merchant Marines late in World War II. After the war, he finished his studies at the Merchant Marine Academy, sailed for a year, then decided to become a minister. After the Korean War began, he enlisted in the Navy as a chaplain instead of a seaman. He preached not only to his fellow Christians but also to Jews (though he once mistakenly put a cloth with a cross on it over his pulpit for a service). He even invited his ship’s atheists to a meeting to compare beliefs. According to Bartlett, “This is the unique ministry of the chaplaincy… When you become a chaplain, everybody in your outfit is your responsibility, regardless of their religion.” Bartlett was attached to a Marine Corps unit in Vietnam, where he had to answer the eternal question, “Hey Chaplain, did Jesus ever have to go to the bathroom?”.
We honor you, William Bartlett.