SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Chaplain (Captain) Delana Small made headlines in 2012 for being assigned as the 101st Airborne Division’s first female chaplain in a combat arms unit. In that role, she trained and served as a member of the “Screaming Eagles.”
Small’s current assignment is another first — she now serves in a Special Operations Unit and is the first female chaplain to qualify for that assignment as well. “This is an assignment with a steady deployment cycle,” said Small.
For these accomplishments and more, she will be honored during Evangel’s 2016 Homecoming celebration as the Outstanding Young Alumnus. The award will be presented during an 11 a.m. luncheon on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the University Plaza Convention Center.
“At Evangel, people are trained to be the best in their field,” said Small. “That’s what Evangel did for me. They didn’t tell me what to think; they taught me how to think.”
Chaplain Small graduated from Evangel University in 2008 with a major in Biblical Studies and minors in Military Science, Leadership, and Spanish. She then completed her Master of Divinity from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) in 2012.
“As both an EU and AGTS student, I had to balance my academic studies with my military obligations,” said Small. “I often spent weekends as an EU student and ROTC cadet training in the Ozarks, conducting land navigation, tactical exercises, and marksmanship, to return to my dorm Sunday night and furiously study for an exam the next morning. I had Greek flashcards tucked in my ammo pouches to study in between exercises.”
Small said her ability to earn a degree in Biblical Studies at Evangel, while also participating in ROTC, was indispensable to reaching her goals.
Fulfilling a dream
When she first set her sights on being a U.S. Army Chaplain, Delana Ingram was 15, and females couldn’t be assigned to a combat arms unit.
That ban was lifted not long after she finished her training — going forward in faith — and at age 26, she became the first female chaplain in the nation to report to an Army combat arms unit.
From the start, it has been her mission to work closely with the troops she served, and it apparently pays off.
“One day a soldier brought in a new soldier for processing,” said Small. “He paid me the highest compliment, saying, ‘You’ll see her a lot. She’s always out on the gun line with us.”
Part of her service has included stints in Afghanistan, where she visits soldiers in scattered areas of operations right on the gun lines. She has served as the officer in charge of chapels, traveling by helicopter between locations and providing support to hundreds of soldiers and civilians at two bases.
A respected leader
“Chaplain Delana Small is incredibly gifted in numerous areas of life. She is highly and vitally talented,” said Dr. Douglas Oss, professor emeritus from AGTS.
“But I want to speak to her character. She is a Godly woman with incredible inner strength and a high level of commitment. She is indeed a shining example of the Army’s ‘leader of character,’” he said.
The respect is mutual — Small took every class that she could from Oss, and as a result, “He was very formative in my understanding of how to effectively bring the Word in a variety of settings,” she said.
As the father of a West Point graduate who is currently serving in the Army, Oss understands the demands on today’s soldiers.
“I am thankful that a person of the caliber of Chaplain (Captain) Delana Small is a key spiritual leader for our American Warriors,” he concluded.
Delana met her husband, Lucas Small, while they were students at AGTS. He is a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves and an Anglican priest with the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches.
EU Homecoming 2016 honorees
Four additional alumni awards will be given during this year’s homecoming celebration. The recipients were chosen by the Evangel University Alumni Association Board of Directors:
- Evangel Distinguished Alumnus – Brigadier General Jeffrey Johnson
- CBC Distinguished Alumnus – Greg Beggs
- CBC Outstanding Young Alumnus – Andy Estrella
- AGTS Alumnus of the Year – Chaplain (Major) J.P. Smith
For more information, contact the Evangel University Alumni Relations Department at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7333.