Chaplains Leon H. Flint and John W. Boud diligently carried out their duties during service in World War II. Like other chaplains, they counseled and ministered to the religious and temporal needs of men and women in the service of all religions and their families.
While serving those of all religions, these two, and many other LDS chaplains, stretched their service as far as needed to bless the lives of members of the Church.Brother Flint of the Holladay 24th Ward, Salt Lake Holladay North Stake, and Brother Boud of the Little Cottonwood 20th Ward, Murray Utah Little Cottonwood Stake, reminisced about their war service during a recent Church News interview. They dwelt upon the satisfaction of providing for the needs of fellow members amidst the confusion as thousands joined the military and scattered to posts throughout the world.
Brother Flint was stationed in Germany when the war ended. Brother Boud, the first LDS chaplain to serve in the Navy, spent the war years in southern California - primarily San Diego - and in Hawaii.
For Brother Boud, a big challenge was breaking down resistance against the Church in the military establishments in and around San Diego.
"The military didn't recognize Mormonism as different from other Protestant religions and I wasn't able to hold LDS meetings," he said. His commanding officer insisted the meetings he conducted be appropriate for those of all religions.
However, he was allowed to organize "discussion classes."
In a life-history volume of nearly 200 pages about his service during the war, Brother Boud told of his concern for Church members in his area. He related that he again asked his commanding officer for permission to conduct LDS services at the Naval Training Center in San Diego in July 1943.
He wrote: "He said no. I would be favoring LDS men. . . . For me to hold a Sunday meeting where LDS men would come would cause disruption of the whole schedule. He was very much against my holding a formal service for LDS men but, as I had formerly stated, permitted us to hold discussion classes weeknights at the various camps. I recorded this in my journal: `While I have asked now and been turned down again, so the sin, if any, is not on my shoulders. I do wish I could do more for LDS boys.' "
Then a later entry exclaimed: "Victory at last. On the 12th of November, 1943, after 26 months of slowly trying to get permission to hold LDS services on Sunday, permission was granted.
His commanding officer'sT heart had been softened.
HeT gave me permission to conduct meetings on Sundays, have prayer, singing and sacrament for LDS men. I have prayed and prayed for this. He said he didn't want the meeting to be called Mormon services, but said we could advertise the services as `A service conducted by Chaplain John W. Boud who represents the Mormon Church. Mormon men are especially invited to attend.' "
Over the years following the war, Brother Boud enjoyed the fruits of his labors when men he had associated with approached him and re-introduced themselves during general conferences in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
For Army Chaplain Flint, military service began on a ship traveling to Europe in 1944. He was among 10,000 soldiers on the troop transport.
"Those in command let me hold LDS services in the ship's chapel because our group was so small," he remembered. "Several in attendance said that it was the first time they had the opportunity to take the sacrament in more than six months."
The close of the war gave Brother Flint the opportunity to perform some special acts of service. For example, during off-duty time one Saturday he located and dedicated the grave of Dale Rex, a member of the Church and former BYU basketball star who was killed in action. Then he wrote to the Rex family hoping the news would give them some comfort.