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First Baptism During Operation Iraqi Freedom!
(With acknowledgement to The Christian Post)

Friday, Mar. 28, 2003 Posted: 10:32:12AM EST

Chaplain Cory Cathcart, left, and Command Chaplain Doyle Dunn prepare to baptize Aviation Technician 2nd Class Sean Zahornacky on board the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). It was the first-ever, full-immersion baptism on the aircraft carrier. Photo by Jim Veneman

In the midst of the rising injuries and fatalities from “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” a soldier across the Mediterranean gains a new life through the first full-immersion baptism on board the USS Harry S. Truman.

"It is perhaps fitting that this is being done during Operation Iraqi Freedom," said Chaplain Doyle W. Dunn.

The soldier, Avionics Technician 2nd Class Sean Zahornacky, from San Jose, California receives his baptism in a JDAM crate – a joint direct attack munitions crate originally used to carry ordinance for destruction.

"This box is designed to bring destruction. Today, we use it to represent creation and newness of life," Dunn said.

Zahornacky, not having been formerly introduced to Christianity, said it was hard for him initially to admit his need for God.

"If I don't see A and B, I don't believe C," the avionics technician said. But, after many months of prayer, asking questions and studying the Bible, he accepted Jesus Christ.

Chaplain Cory Cathcart who, along with Dunn performed the baptism, said, "I really believe that everyone has a God-shaped vacuum inside. Many try to fill it with other things, but in the end, only God will fit your heart."

The lieutenant spends much of his time counseling young 18- and 19-year-olds who are experiencing their first deployment away from home -- amid 5,500 people on the Truman. He matches new believers with older mentors to encourage church attendance and bible studies.

"Baptism is an event that has been celebrated for 2,000 years," said. Dunn, his hand on Zahornacky's shoulder. "It began in the life of Jesus who set the example by being baptized by John the Baptist."

After a few more words and a Scripture reading by Chaplain Cathcart, Dunn and Cathcart prepare to lean the 22-year-old back into the water.

After the young sailor was baptized, he stood; his fellow Christians witnessed his baptism and congratulated him.

"I walk inches off the ground after something like this," Dunn said, smiling broadly. "It is such a joy to see a sailor make such a clear commitment in front of his shipmates."
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