U.S. ArmyBrigade Chaplain, 84th Troop Command, Minnesota Army National Guard
He has served his country with songs and sermons.
Winnebago native and 1990 Blue Earth Area High School graduate Cory Germain taught middle school music in Iowa for a short time following college, “but, it wasn’t a good fit for me at the time,” he recalled.
Having heard several military bands perform over the years, he decided to carry his love of music into the service as a percussionist. After scoring an audition with the United States Army Band, Germain enlisted in 1995 and headed to 10 weeks of Army basic training at Fort Jackson, SC and Advanced Individual Training at the Armed Forces School of Music at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk, VA.
Germain’s first duty station was at Fort Knox, KY between 1996 and 1998 with the 113th Army Band. Bands throughout the Army are comprised of active duty soldiers who play a variety of music styles to inspire Soldiers, foster the support of citizens, and promote national interests at home and abroad.
During his time in Kentucky, he met his future wife, Ellen, while attending a Presbyterian congregation near the Army base. Within the year, the two were married. But the reality of military service quickly hit home when the newlywed solider was shipped to Seoul, South Korea with the 8th Army Band for a yearlong tour.
While stationed in Korea, Germain remembers becoming involved in the base chapel services and particularly interested in the work of the Army Chaplains. He explained that he was born and raised in the church and had stayed active with his faith in the Presbyterian Church throughout high school and college. The seed was planted.
Following a short leave in the U.S., he was excited to embark on his next assignment to the 76th Army Band (formally known as the V-Corps Band) in historic Wiesbaden, Germany. This time his wife Ellen was able to join him. During their three-year stay in Germany, between 2000 and 2003, Germain’s unit also relocated to Manheim, Germany. “I greatly enjoyed the frequent trips to perform with the band throughout Europe, and even Cairo, Egypt one Fourth of July, he remembered.
After Germany, the young family returned for another tour with the 113th Army Band at Fort Knox, KY. During nearly ten years of active duty, Germain served as a percussionist, vocalist, and small-ensemble leader within Army bands. As he rose in rank to Staff Sergeant, he served additional duties within various bands as an administrative clerk, Nuclear Biological and Chemical Non-Commissioned Officer, Unit Security Manager, and Squad Leader. Throughout his Army music career, Germain had reoccurring thoughts of combining his faith in God with his Army career. “During my time overseas, the Army had been recruiting heavily for chaplains, as they were in short supply to adequately serve the troops,” he said.
After this second stateside assignment, he stepped away from active duty in June of 2005 to attend seminary in Louisville, KY. He remained in the Individual Ready Reserve and received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate program at the end of January 2006. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in December 2008 and served as an Army Chaplain with Army Reserve units in the Kentucky and Tennessee area. His plan to return directly to active duty as an Army chaplain was never realized, originally because he lacked the required years of experience as a fulltime pastor, and later because of his age.
By 2010, a chaplain assignment came open with an Army Reserve unit being deployed to Afghanistan. After a lot of prayer, Germain said he felt it was the right path for him. He deployed to Afghanistan as chaplain of the 419th Movement Control Battalion from Peoria, IL. “I got to travel all over Afghanistan to provide counseling and services to the soldiers in my battalion, plus I was able to combine my love and skills in music with my chaplaincy,” he said. Germain played in praise and worship bands during church services and was able to lead Sunday services at the base chapel every other week.
His Southwest Asia tour ended just before Christmas 2010, and he happily rejoined his family, who had transitioned to Midwest life in Winnebago before the deployment to be near his parents. In the summer of 2011, Rev. Germain answered the call to become pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pipestone, MN. He transferred from the Army Reserves to the Minnesota National Guard’s 1- 151st Field Artillery Battalion based in Montevideo, MN while he served the church in Pipestone for three-and-a-half years. Soon after ending his ministry there in Pipestone, the Army came knocking. “I was deployed again, this time to Kuwait with the Guard’s 682nd Engineer Battalion from Willmar/St. Cloud,” Germain remembers.
Since returning from this most recent deployment in mid-2016, Rev. Germain has been the pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fairmont, having applied for the vacant pastor position and interviewed via Skype while still deployed in Kuwait. He served briefly with the 34th Infantry Division in early 2017, then took his current position as the Brigade Chaplain of 84th Troop Command, headquartered in Cambridge, MN.
Chaplain Germain and his wife Ellen have two teenage children, Emma and Cameron.
Photos and story ©2020 Joseph Kreiss Photography