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Chaplain receives Malmstrom's first Witherspoon Award

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Clyde Dyson, 341st Missile Wing chaplain, talks to Staff Sgt. Jack Vudtiyanon, 341st MW chaplain assistant, during an open-forum counseling session on Nov. 19. Dyson recently received the coveted Witherspoon Award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen)

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Clyde Dyson, 341st Missile Wing chaplain, talks to Staff Sgt. Jack Vudtiyanon, 341st MW chaplain assistant, during an open-forum counseling session on Nov. 19. Dyson recently received the coveted Witherspoon Award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- A 341st Missile Wing chaplain has made his mark.

A first ever for Malmstrom Air Force Base, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Clyde Dyson, was named the recipient of the coveted Witherspoon Award - the highest award given to an Air Force chaplain, during a ceremony in New York on Nov. 15.

The award, named after the famous World War I and II chaplain, Maurice Witherspoon, is given to three chaplains of the U.S. Armed Forces who demonstrate and promote Bible reading in a unique and effective way over the course of one year.

"Every year, the Air Force Chief of Chaplains office accepts nominations for the Witherspoon Award," Dyson said. "In order to meet the criteria, the nominee is required to have deployed to a combat zone during that year, and utilized the word of God through preaching, teaching and encouraging Bible reading to others. The second criteria requires a chaplain to lead Bible studies, preach at their home base, as well as develop various programs such as AWANAS and lady Bible studies to further the use of the Bible. The third criteria is personal dedication to the scripture."

During his time at Kadena Air Base, Japan, he was the deputy wing chaplain and started a Bible training institute on Tuesday nights. He helped increase membership from 25 to more than 150 attendees. In just over a year since Dyson arrived at Malmstrom, the AWANAs program has increased from 20 to 60 children attendees, and weekly worship services have increased from five to 75 adults.

"When programs grow and people become a part of worship programs and Bible studies, it's because of the unique team we have here - chaplains, chaplain assistants, the secretary and the contractors," Dyson said. "Everyone plays a role, and as a team, we've come together and we've tried to always be ready with faith, hope and charity."

Despite his achievements, Dyson remains honored and humbled to be named the sole recipient in the Air Force for the award.

"This award means that the word of God matters," Dyson said. "I'm honored, to say the least, to have been chosen to receive such an award to say I'm actually doing my job, and I'm doing it well. So to me, it's saying I'm a good servant above all. It's not really an award you get for self achievement, but it's an award that you get because you have helped others, and served others through trying times, through the word of God."