Category Archives: Panther Faith

“More than a Calling” – Airborne Rabbi Leads by Example

Determination to lead by example spurs a Chaplain to serve alongside paratroopers.

Capt. Yisahar Izak’s drive to be a role-model to fellow faith-leaders and paratroopers in the midst of adversity spurs him to serve as a Chaplain in the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

“When I came into the US Army, there was a lack of Jewish Chaplains in active jump status, meaning we are not able to have a Rabbi lead by example for our paratroopers,” said Izak. “I was already a fan of the 82nd by virtue of studying its history and proud legacy. It was a win-win match with my high motivation to become an Airborne-qualified Chaplain.

Before his assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division, Izak globe-trekked through forty different countries on four continents, growing up in six of them and spending over 17 years in developing regions.

“Having been a civilian, member of a Non-Governmental Organization and soldier at war in other countries, I came to the conclusion the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence are the most sacred human-written texts and the only ones that give humans a chance to coexist in a civilized manner,” said Izak. “To serve them would be the highest ministry I could achieve.”

Orthodox Jewish by faith denomination, Izak previously served as a Rabbi in Flatbush, New York, Izmir, Turkey and in numerous locations in Israel. He first heard his calling to faith while involved in humanitarian relief and disaster response operations in South Asia and the Middle East between 1998 and 1999.

“The amount of suffering pushed me towards more and more self-reflection to the point that after the two large earthquakes in Turkey with over 50,000 casualties combined…I could not reason with all what was going on all around me,” said Izak. “All I knew was I needed to understand the balance in all what goes on.

“I set sails to go to seminary. Being concerned with volunteering, eager to address other’s needs, and having a genuine concern to help others – I ended up evolving into a faith leader,” continued Izak. “More than a calling, it was a natural journey full of divine providence.”

The transition from faith-student to faith-leader was natural for Izak. After seven years of full-time study, he was approached by his elders with the offer to study for the Rabbinical exams. His drive to lead by example in the midst of adversity eventually led him to serve alongside paratroopers in the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg.

Izak’s kippa, the traditional brimless skull cap worn by Jews to fulfill orthodox requirements to keep their head covered at all times, is often the topic of conversation between he and paratroopers along with his prayer shawl and other ecclesiastical items.

“One of the three main competencies of the Chaplain Corps is to nourish the living, requiring me to provide services for my religion while facilitating services for all paratroopers per their faith group,” said Izak. “I love the concept of chaplaincy where a minister can care for everyone regardless what religion they are.”

Panther Brigade Religious Support Specialist Promoted

Staff Sergeant Edward Chambers, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division’s Senior Religious Support Specialist was promoted from the rank of Sergeant Thursday, September 6.

Chambers assist the brigade’s chaplain in ensuring the religious and spiritual needs of the brigade are met.  He also facilitates events supporting the resilience and familial wellbeing of paratroopers in the brigade.

“Heaven Recognizes Him as a Hero”

An 82nd Airborne Division legend was recently laid to rest.

The life, valor and accomplishments of retired Army 1st Sgt. Harold Eatman were celebrated during his funeral services held July 11 at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eatman died in the first week of July 2018 at the age of 102.

The casket of retired 1st Sgt. Harold Eatman is carried by paratroopers of the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment from the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Charlotte, North Carolina after his funeral July 11, 2018. Eatman was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 505th PIR and conducted combat jumps into Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Holland during World War II.

“Today we celebrate the life and remember a true hero and we pray he is soon welcomed into the arms of our heavenly Father,” said Fr. Christopher Roux, the Pastor of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral during Eatman’s funeral service.

Eatman was a member of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and participated in the regiment’s four combat jumps into Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Holland during World War II. He volunteered for the Army in early 1942 after learning of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and served his first tour of duty in Hawaii. There, he reenlisted to join the newly forming paratroop units and was assigned to the 505th PIR.

The late retired Army 1st Sgt. Harold Eatman as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Eatman made four combat jumps with the 505th PIR into Sicily, Salerno, Normand and Holland during World War II and was laid to rest July 11 after a service at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Paratroopers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team follow in the footsteps of legends like 1st Sgt. Eatman,” said Col. Arthur Sellers, Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the parent unit of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 505th PIR. “Men and women of the Panther Brigade proudly carry on his legacy by remaining ready to answer our nation’s call to jump, fight and win on any drop zone in the world.”

In 2015, Eatman and six other WWII veterans received the French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration bestowed in France. He was also the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

A family member of retired 1st Sgt. Harold Eatman, left, places a flower on his casket at Sharon Memorial Park in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 11 as 1st Sgt. James Miller, right, of Company, B, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment looks on. Eatman was a member of the 505th PIR during World War II, making combat jumps into Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Holland. Eatman passed away earlier in July at the age of 102.

“Greater love has no man, that he would lay down his life and he [Eatman] was willing to do it,” said Roux, quoting a passage from the Bible. “Our country recognizes him as a hero and I suspect heaven recognizes him as a hero, too, because he lived those words of sacred scripture.”