Candidates 2018-03-01T14:06:54+00:00

Candidates for OCF Council Class of 2021

Below is biographical information for candidates running in the OCF Council elections, which begin 1 March and end 31 March. If you would like to familiarize yourself with the current OCF Council, click here and scroll down to OCF Governance. Otherwise, follow the instructions below to cast your ballot. We appreciate your prayers over the candidates and the election process.

Go to the Election Runner voting site and follow the instructions to log-in, or check your email (including junk folder) for an email OCF sent on 1 March with login credentials and voting instructions.

Use the ballot in the March COMMAND magazine and send it back to the OCF home office. Ballots postmarked by 31 March will be tallied.

For more information, contact Heidi Martin at the OCF home office: 800-424-1984 or

Capt Joshua Benedetti, USAF

Education: Miami University, Strategic Communications, 2012; Central Michigan University, Masters of Business Administration, 2015

Present Assignment: Chief of Public Affairs, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2016; Spring Canyon retreat attendee; local church involvement; USAFA ministry team member, Class of 2019 group lead, Bible study leader, discipled cadets for nearly two years

Personal Testimony:

I grew up in a loving Christian family and church. I accepted Christ at a young age; however, when I went to college I fell away from the Lord in the first year. By His grace, I was drawn back and recommitted my life to Christ my sophomore year. I have been involved in lay ministry through OCF and CRU ever since.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

Relationships will always be central to OCF ministry. Drawing a connection and building trust help forge the relationships that allow OCF to fulfill its mission of engaging and equipping military leaders for Christlike service. Interestingly, the next generation uses digital media as a natural means to build relationships. I believe OCF can reach these digital natives with greater impact by strategically leveraging social media platforms and smartphone apps.

Nominated By: Lt Col Matthew Brandt, USAF (Ret.); Maj Kathryn Toms, USAF; Lt Col Steve Wade, USAF (Ret.)

CH(LTC) Donald Carrothers, USA

Education: N. Arizona University, BS in Education, 1981; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, M.Div., 1986

Present Assignment: United States Corps of Cadets Chaplain, West Point, NY

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2010; active in cadet chapel at USMA; Spring Canyon retreat attendee (Leavenworth week); active in West Point extracurricular clubs

Personal Testimony:

Though my father was on active duty with the Air Force my entire childhood through college, we attended local churches wherever we lived. I was 14, attending a revival service, and felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit about my sin and my hopelessness to change my spiritual condition. I prayed and received Christ into my heart.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

OCF’s calling to engage the military community through Christ-like leadership is as critical today as it ever has been. OCF’s biggest opportunity is the ability to engage the military community, including leaders and their families, through authentic relationships through small group Bible study.

Nominated By: MAJ Benjamin Jordan, USA (Ret.); LTC Theodore Kaiser, USA; LTC Colin Wooten, USA (Ret.)

LT Matthew Drayton, CHC, USN

Education: University of New Hampshire, BS in Kinesiology/Outdoor Education, 1997; Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, M.Div., 2010

Present Assignment: Sector Command Chaplain, USCG, Southeastern New England

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2011; OCF Bible study leader; chaplain staff for Rocky Mountain High 2017; active in local church teaching Bible studies, pulpit supply, and counseling; Spring Canyon retreat attendee; involvement in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, American Association of Christian Counselors, Pastors Forum, Frontiers Missions, African Inland Mission, Childvoice International, church missions/individual missionaries

Personal Testimony:

In my mid-twenties I discovered a Jesus I had never known. I was baptized in a hot-tub after a Romans Bible study in a miraculous Holy Spirit moment. Since I am experiential, that moment convicted me for a lifetime and propelled me immediately into outdoor ministry/athletics ministry/church ministry and military ministry of serving men and women of uncommon character and like conviction.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

Our biggest opportunity must always stem from the successful discipleship of faithful service members, who are guided by the Holy Spirit, convicted by the Bible, and strengthened by OCF in partnership with the greater church—all for God’s purposes and opportunities, visible and invisible. We cannot cave to competing corporate values, measurements, or means. I am particularly excited about our retreat centers and RMH to provide the countercultural “Get Back To God, Mentorship Moments” that only general revelation can facilitate and invoke so powerfully.

Nominated By: CDR Carl Crabtree, USN (Ret.); CH(COL) Marc Gauthier, USA; Maj Timothy Tormey, USMC; LtCol Sean Welch, USMC

LTC Vaughn (Eric) Hathaway, USA

Education: University of Southern Mississippi, BS, 1994

Present Assignment: Instructor of Tactics at the Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2007; current OCF Council member; governance committee member, past finance committee member; Bible study leader, Fort Leavenworth, KS; local leader, North Camp MFO Sinai, Egypt; post coordinator, Fort Sill, OK; Spring Canyon and White Sulphur Springs retreat attendee; Marked Men for Christ leader/participant; youth pastor/Deacon/Sunday school teacher/volunteer for local church

Personal Testimony:

My father was saved as a U.S. Air Force airman and later became a pastor, passing on his faith and patriotism to all his children. I claim my earliest salvation in Christ as seen in Psalm 22:9-10. Throughout my life in 2 wars and 3 fronts and numerous deployments the Lord has been my rock and shield. I trust in Christ alone.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

OCF has the opportunity to enable U.S. service members and their families to live their faith integrated with the God of the Bible through relationships, fellowship, mentorship, Bible studies, conference centers, and Christlike leadership. This will allow godly leaders to further the kingdom while providing biblical leadership and skills to our military and its members.

Nominated By: COL Dave Batchelor, USA (Ret.); COL Rich Goldsmith, USA (Ret.); COL Jackie Kem, USA (Ret.)

LTC Michael Helton, USA

Education: U.S. Military Academy, BS, 1998; University of Missouri-Rolla, MS in Engineering Management, 2003

Present Assignment: Commander, 35th Engineer Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood, MO

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2011; Sunday school adult bible study leader, Fort Leavenworth, KS, 2011; praise band member at chapel, Kabul, Afghanistan, 2014-2015; assisted Chaplains with establishing new chapel service, volunteer worship leader, usher, guest preacher in chapel, Fort Leonard Wood; current OCF small group leader, Fort Leonard Wood; motorcycle ministry since 2011

Personal Testimony:

I’m very fortunate that I was raised in a loving Christian home. However, I did not start taking faith seriously until my first deployment to Iraq in 2004. I roomed with my battalion chaplain and asked Jesus into my heart with my whole heart after attending his Bible study in Baghdad. This is when I believe I was born again.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

For OCF to increase its positive impact on military communities and the spiritual fitness of all ranks by engaging non-commissioned officers through formally establishing NCOCF. Local NCOCF leaders could work closely with local OCF leaders to build up a wider population of leaders in their faith. NCOs are the backbone of the Armed Services. Providing opportunities for building them up in their faith and producing more effective Christian/servant leaders will impact countless soldiers (and young officers).

Nominated By: CH(COL) Marc Gauthier, USA; LTC Tom Schmidt, USA (Ret.); Kori Yates (separated USMC 1Lt); MAJ Kyle Yates, USA

Col Dale Holland, USAF (Ret.)

Education: U.S. Air Force Academy, BS in Electrical Engineering, 1987; Liberty University, MA in Religion, 1997; Air University, Air Command and Staff College, Master of Military Operational Art and Science, 2002; U.S. Army War College, Master of Strategic Studies,

Present Assignment: Retired

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 1990; Spring Canyon and White Sulphur Springs retreats attendee; active participant in the USAFA OCF ministry; member of the Spring Canyon Advisory Council (SCAC) since 1990; local leader at Sheppard AFB, TX; Kirtland AFB, NM; Hurlburt Field, FL, and Hickham AFB, HI

Personal Testimony:

I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at a very early age due to the strong influence of my godly parents and local church. My childhood faith was strengthened during high school and later at the Air Force Academy because of spiritual mentors who personally invested in me.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

You, our members. OCF’s best asset continues to be the individuals who engage the military society around them in Christlike service. We must continue to effectively use our conference centers, local Bible studies, and leadership training efforts to influence our commissioning sources and faithfully grow and sustain our members while they integrate faith, family, and profession throughout their military careers.

Nominated By: Col Kim Hawthorne, USAF (Ret.); COL Ray Porter, USA (Ret.); Maj Timothy Tormey, USMC; Col Houston Waring, USAF (Ret.)

LCDR Gordon Hood, USCG

Education: U.S. Coast Guard Academy, BS in Marine and Environmental Science, 2005; Boise State University, MS Organizational Performance & Workplace Learning, 2015; U.S. Naval War College, Naval Command & Staff Diploma, 2017

Present Assignment: National Aids to Navigation School Chief, Training Center, Yorktown, VA

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2002; current Council member and Secretary; council talent committee member; weekly Bible study at Yorktown chapel; local leader and substitute preacher at chapel, Kodiak, AK; USNA chapel 2010-2012; AWANA; White Sulphur Springs retreat attendee; “unabashedly living out faith as an officer in today’s military”

Personal Testimony:

I grew up in a Christian home and asked Jesus into my heart when I was three years old, but really began to “own” my faith in high school thanks to a vibrant church youth group—and having to meet with the principal and explain our Constitutional right to start a Bible study club.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

OCF has expanded significantly in recent years and must continue to remain relevant to the next generation of officers. We have vibrant academy ministries, but with a variety of church options and numerous military ministries targeting young service members, a newly commissioned officer can miss out on crucial multi-generational fellowship and support – at the time in their career when seasoned mentors are needed most to model the integration of faith, family and profession as a leader in today’s military.

Nominated By: CH(COL) Marc Gauthier, USA; LTC Dave Guida, USA; LTC Steve Schmidt, USA

LTC Theodore (Ted) Kaiser, USA

Education: U.S. Military Academy, BS in Chemistry, 1997; University of North Carolina, MS in Analytical Chemistry, 2007

Present Assignment: U.S. Military Academy Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Life Science Department

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 1996; Anchor Points 2011 attendee; OCF officer in charge at USMA (4 yrs.); neighborhood OCF Bible study leader at Fort Leavenworth and West Point; area coordinator in Friedberg, Germany (3 yrs.); USMA cadet Bible study leader (7 yrs.); USMA cadet retreats at White Sulphur Springs; Integrated Faith Project Pilot attendee, 2018; local chapel attendee, usher; involved in Higher Ground, a men’s ministry, and Gideons, disciples cadets and junior officers

Personal Testimony:

I was raised knowing of Christ and attending church sporadically; however, this belief was merely historical, intellectual, and superficial. Before my Firstie year at West Point, I attended a retreat that confronted me with my degenerate state and I received salvation by surrendering my life to Christ. OCF was a big part of preparing me spiritually and intellectually for my salvation.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

OCF confronts challenges beyond those of other ministries like preparing members to pursue Christ in love in a military that is increasingly hostile towards evangelical Christianity. We have to stay current with what is acceptable and train our membership on how they can see Christ glorified without getting themselves or the organization subject to prohibitive scrutiny. We could be made to appear as if subjugating Christ to fear on one extreme and contradicting our federal duty on the other.

Nominated By: LTC Thomas Austin, USA (Ret.); CPT John Goodwill, USA; LTC Colin Wooten, USA (Ret.)

LTC Kwenton Kuhlman, USA

Education: U.S. States Military Academy, BS International Relations, 1999; Kings College, London, England, Masters in Defense Studies, 2010; Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Masters in International Public Policy, 2011

Present Assignment: Battalion Commander, 2-504 PIR, 1st BDE, 82nd Airborne Division

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 1999; Anchor Points 2013; White Sulphur Springs retreat attendee; lead/hosted OCF small group Bible studies: Fort Leavenworth, in England at the Joint Services Advanced Command and Staff College, in Washington D.C., and at the NATO HQ in Spain; organized OCF “brown bag lunch” at Fort Campbell, KY with Greg and Lucy Lane; participated in OCF “brown bag lunch” at Fort Bragg, NC; currently involved in Bible study while deployed.

Personal Testimony:

My parents taught us about Christ as children and I attended church weekly growing up. I accepted Christ as my Savior at 13. At USMA, I taught kindergarten Sunday school and led God’s Gang youth groups. I was active in OCF and BSU at USMA. My wife, Summer, and I led a youth group at Fort Bragg when I was a Captain. We both taught Sunday school class when we lived in Spain. We strive to raise godly children. Our son, Hudson, accepted Christ when we lived in Spain. We are active in a local church.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

Reaching a generation of young leaders who define community differently than we have traditionally done so in the past. Younger leaders get their sense of community more from virtual sources and less from traditional methods. It is still imperative to bring Christians together in fellowship in new ways. We struggle to get troopers to chapel services, but must help people find Christian accountability, fellowship, and friendship if we are to keep the body healthy.

Nominated By: COL Jackie Kem, USA (Ret.); LTC Tom Schmidt, USA (Ret.); COL Mike Tesdahl, USA (Ret.)

Lt Col Nathan Loucks, USAF

Education: U.S. Air Force Academy, BS in Aeronautical Engineering, 2002; Liberty University, Master of Science in Management, 2010

Present Assignment: Instructor Pilot for Upgrading T-38 Instructor Pilots at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, TX

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2000; Weekly OCF Bible study leader and mentoring/discipling to new lieutenants at JBSA; current Sunday school teacher at local church; weekly Bible study leader; Ellsworth AFB, SD; Spring Canyon retreat attendee

Personal Testimony:

As a kid, I thought pleasing God simply required pleasing my parents. I professed faith in Christ in junior high thinking that was the natural next step. By God’s grace I grew in knowing Him, but in recent years I’ve comprehended my wretchedness before a holy God and my need to walk in daily repentance, recognizing Christ as Lord.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

Cadets and officer candidates enjoy tremendous growth and fellowship at their commissioning sources through OCF Field Staff and other leaders, but the next step for many young officers is void of OCF representation. A recent crackdown (in the AF, at least) on inappropriate student/instructor relations had the unintended consequence of stifling fellowship at many training bases. We should double down in those locations to ensure continuity of ministry in this formative stage while honoring the authorities appointed over us.

Nominated By: Col Jupe Etheridge, USAF; Capt Taeyoung Lee, USAF; Col Houston Waring, USAF (Ret.)

Maj Matthew McWhirter, USAF

Education: Lipscomb University, Biblical Studies, 2007; Liberty University, Human Services- Executive Leadership Concentration, 2012

Present Assignment: Air Staff, The Pentagon. Military Force Policy (AF/A1P)

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2014; AWANA; welcome team and usher at church; White Sulphur Springs retreat attendee; OCF Bible study leader at the Pentagon; past youth ministry leadership in NJ

Personal Testimony:

I grew up in the church as a Catholic. When I was 16, I started attending a nondenominational church in Colorado and the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) group. Through those ministries and now OCF, I felt a strong calling to accept and serve Christ. Through His grace, I was broken, and through His power, He utilizes me for His purposes.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

The military is a platform that can inflict change upon our world, both positively and negatively. This world needs its leaders to be of moral character and sound principles that are built upon His Word. Through OCF, leaders can grow to a better understanding of how to live godly lives based upon sound Christian ideologies. Additionally, OCF has the opportunity to motivate leaders to put faith into action in such a way that continues to advance His mission.

Nominated By: LTC Dave Guida, USA; Capt Austin Pickrell, USAF; LTC Steve Schmidt, USA; Ch, Capt Mark Traeger, USAF

Capt Benjamin Pennington, USMC

Education: Columbia College, BS in Interdisciplinary Studies, 2007; Columbia College, MBA, 2013

Present Assignment: Assistant Aircraft Maintenance Officer/Marine Helicopter Squadron One

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 2010; current Bible study co-leader; White Sulphur Springs retreat attendee, most recently on the junior officer panel for the OCF/Valor ROTC retreat at WSS; OCF small group, Fredericksburg, VA; OCF co-leader Kaneohe Bay, HI

Personal Testimony:

I grew up in a Pentecostal church and was saved at a young age. The “religious” nature of my upbringing skewed my perception of being a Christian so much so that it became more of a tradition than a heart condition. The Christian mentorship that God has placed into my military path has drastically changed my walk with God.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

There are three strengths that set OCF apart from other Christian military organizations: the OCF headquarters’ ability to connect people, the two retreat centers, and field staff members that serve as the continuity for the organization. OCF’s biggest opportunity directly aligns with its three strengths: enhancing the connection with its members, increasing the size of its field staff, and better integrating the OCF small groups with the two retreat centers.

Nominated By: LTC Dave Guida, USA; CAPT Michael Patterson, USN (Ret.); LTC Steve Schmidt, USA

CAPT Arthur (AJ) Reiss, USN

Education: U.S. Naval Academy, BS in Oceanography, 1990; Naval Postgraduate School, MS in Physical Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences, 1999

Present Assignment: Naval Deputy to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 1997; local church involvement, Sunday school teacher; OCF weekly Pentagon Bible study; facilitator of weekly Pentagon prayer meeting; Spring Canyon and White Sulphur Springs retreats attendee, most recently at the Eastern Leader’s Conference, 2018; discipling Serbian immigrant and others in workplace and community.

Personal Testimony:

I grew up churched, overachieving, and successful (so I thought), but didn’t know Jesus as personal Savior. Through a failing marriage and a faithful chapel, Jesus showed me: “you don’t know my Word, your thoughts are not mine, and you aren’t a Christian. Humble thyself and follow Me!”— So I did. He restored us, and continues making all things new.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

Revolutionize how we “engage” and “equip” ourselves through our flagship conference centers. Conduct a prayer campaign that evaluates a paradigm shift of them from occasionally visited retreat centers to frontline equipping war colleges; hosting (and/or exporting) a spiritual growth/integrated faith training continuum that touches military leaders and families at critical milestones throughout their careers (akin to leadership and professional growth training continuums at service leadership schools). Graduates carry knowledge and skills back to local fellowships for encouragement, application, and accountability.

Nominated By: CDR Joseph Chiaravallotti, USN (Ret.); COL John Demko, USA; Maj Matthew McWhirter, USAF; LTC Paul Robyn, USA (Ret.)

LTC Ryan Strong, USA

Education: North Georgia College, BA English/Sociology, 1992; Central Michigan University, MA in Leadership, 2016

Present Assignment: Leadership Instructor, Department of Command and Leadership at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS

Ministry Involvement:

OCF Member since 2014; OCF Team Lead 2017-2018 at Fort Leavenworth, KS; local chapel/chaplain support; Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader; Spring Canyon and White Sulphur Springs retreat attendee; Marked Men for Christ leader/participant

Personal Testimony:

Growing up, I attended church with my grandmother and mother. They instilled in me a fear and reverence of God. Although baptized in high school, I lost my way until I re-dedicated my life to Jesus when I came to Ft. Leavenworth. I continue to grow closer to Him everyday.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

I see commitment and communication as challenges at Ft. Leavenworth—the commitment to find time amongst all other competing priorities where the balance between family, faith, and profession can be misunderstood. We must communicate vision and mission in such a way as to not seem a threat to chaplains and church members that do not see themselves as disciples or missionaries to spread the word, while emphasizing that we are serving Him and building His kingdom, not our own.

Nominated By: LtCol Kurt Ebaugh, USMC (Ret.); LTC Eric Hathaway, USA; MAJ William Lesley, USA; Maj Sarah Schwennesen, USAFR; LTC Colin Wooten, USA (Ret.)

CDR Dennis Wischmeier, USN

Education: George Washington University, BA, 2001; Naval Postgraduate School, MBA, 2009

Present Assignment: EUCOM’s Chief of Senate Congressional Affairs

Ministry Involvement:

OCF member since 1998; NAS Pensacola Chapel attendee during flight school; deacon/ministry leader/Sunday school teacher, community group leader at local churches throughout military assignments; OCF local leader at JB Pearl/Hickam, HI; OCF local leader at Whidbey Island, WA; White Sulphur Springs retreat attendee; initiated OCF chapter at George Washington University

Personal Testimony:

I grew up in a Christian home and community, but refined my beliefs and would truly say I began to follow Christ on my own during my USMC boot camp and enlisted time. ROTC OCF retreats and my college OCF group were paramount in preparing me for Christian followership and leadership.

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for OCF?

OCF seems to be strongest at the academies, some ROTC campuses, and at overseas locations. I believe there is a big opportunity to support OCF opportunities at other ROTC schools, and OCS locations. I also believe we could utilize the network of OCF members to branch out for events to folks who cannot make it to OCF’s two conference centers.

Nominated By: LCDR Jay Boyles, USN; COL Mark Derber, USA; Maj Russell Foxworth, USAF; Col Larry Simpson, USAF (Ret.); CDR Mike Thompson, USN; Col Ricardo Trimillos, USAF