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Manta forward operating location opens doors to first chapel

MANTA, Ecquador -- The 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron new chapel opened their doors to deployed members in Manta, Ecuador, Oct. 1. 

Armed with Bibles in lieu of M-16s, Chaplain (Capt.) Jeff Granger and Senior Airman Mirella Santos, chaplain assistant, comprise the first chapel team responsible for the spiritual well-being of all deployed here. 

"We have an outstanding target of opportunity to influence the spiritual climate of the FOL," said Chaplain Granger. "And when that is affected, it trickles down to operations as well." 

In the past, Air Force chaplains visited the FOL during religious holidays but never held a permanent position at the installation. To compensate for the gaps between holidays, Airmen organized Bible-study groups. 

According to Airman Santos, being the first chapel team presents both negative and positive challenges. 

"There are more liberties and distractions on a base like Manta than there are in the desert," said Airman Santos. "[My goal] is to provide the spiritual support that everyone needs." 

The 478th EOS offers many of the same conveniences to its military personnel as a base of a larger size - top of the line dining facilities, permanent lodging, medical facilities, convenience store, fitness center and recreation activities to name a few. 

"We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for our deployed personnel. This was a need that had been identified by our personnel and we are happy that we are able to meet the spiritual needs of our personnel," said Colonel Delucca, 478 EOS commander. 

The Air Force gives you the tools to become physically fit, explained Chaplain Granger. 

"Chaplains provide tools to develop spiritual and emotional health, resulting in Airmen who are completely fit to accomplish the mission." 

The U.S. Air Force has operated from Manta, Ecuador, since 1999, with the signing of the Convenio, the agreement to allow operations in Manta.