Chaplain receives presidential award


SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Four thousand volunteer hours is sufficient to receive a Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. Southern Baptist Chaplain Don Biadog Jr. has amassed more than 13,000 hours since 1990.

Major General Michael J. Borgschulte, Commanding General of Third Marine Aircraft Wing, and Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Weingart, Executive Officer of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at MCAS Miramar in San Diego, presented the honor on April 18 on behalf of the President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden. The event was held at the historic Officers’ Club at Miramar, the former home of Top Gun.

“On behalf of the American people, I extend my heartfelt appreciation to you for your volunteer leadership and encourage you to continue to answer the call to service,” President Biden stated in a letter to Biadog. “The country is counting on you.”

But no one said it quite like Jesus, who said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16, Modern English Version).

Manuel “Don” A. Biadog, Jr., is a retired U.S. Naval Chaplain with the rank of Commander, representing the Southern Baptist Convention. He recently became the latest recipient of the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong commitment to building a stronger nation through volunteer service.  

“I did not expect it at all,” Biadog told me in a phone call after I heard about the award. “I was never awarded anything like this.”

Febe Luna, U.S. Marine Corps Family Team Building Trainer and Installation Volunteer Coordinator at Miramar said Chaplain Biadog “is a shining example of servant leadership, not only giving his time and efforts to our nation but to military communities and host nations all over the globe.” 

What Chaplain Biadog has done to add value to America exceeds exemplary voluntarism. Following are some examples of his passion to serve: 

When Superstorm Sandy hit New York during the 2012 Christmas holidays, he took personal leave from the Navy to volunteer with the SBC’s Disaster Relief Team from the State of Washington for more than two weeks in New Jersey and New York. He set an example for the university students who comprised most of the team. 

When he was stationed in Okinawa during three tours of duty from 1997-2000 and 2003-2007, Biadog led Marines and Sailors in multiple Community Relations (COMREL) Projects on weekends on Okinawa, and on the mainland of Japan and in South Korea. He led them in collecting and sharing humanitarian supplies with schools, orphanages, homes of the elderly and infirmed, and campsites. 

He risked his life during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 when he took humanitarian supplies and toys to hundreds of Iraqi children near the Baghdad International Airport during the Christmas holidays.

Biadog also led a team of Marines, Sailors, parents, and students in taking humanitarian supplies to impoverished survivors of natural and man-made disasters in the Philippines and other Asian countries. He orchestrated the shipment of tons of supplies by land, sea, and air on his own time during holidays. Many of the recipients were destitute children.   

Sources of recognition for his service span decades. They include the U.S. National Navy League, which awarded him the Project Handclasp Humanitarian Service Award on June 19, 2015, the VFW’s Chaplain of the Year award in 2023, and a Letter of Appreciation, dated November 28, 2015, from His Excellency Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, D.D., Archbishop of Manila and Chairman of the Pontificio Collegio Filipino of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

“Your compassionate leadership and the sea service volunteer efforts impacted the residents and staff of the Collegio,” Tagle noted in his letter. “Your hard work resulted in the historic visits of the Philippines ' Ambassador to the Vatican, Swiss guards, priests and Religious Sisters from Collegio, and myself on board Naval Support Activity Naples since September 2013.

“The priests’ and Religious Sisters’ ship's visit was irreplaceable,” Tagle’s letter continued. “The Navy 's friendship with the Collegio has exposed our residents to new realities in life, welcoming them into your world, exchanging views and experiences with the Sailors and civilian staff.”

Please join with me as we say to Commander Biadog, “Thank you for helping America in her time of need. And when you help the least of the people of the world, you do it as unto Christ. You have made America stronger for it as well as for the reach of the gospel.” 

James F. Linzey is a retired Army chaplain with the rank of Major. He was the first fulltime chaplain for the Leader’s Training Course under the U.S. Army Cadet Command and wrote one of the four official U.S. Armed Forces prayers in all of American history. He is the founding president of Military Bible Association, the chief editor of the Modern English Version Bible translation, and he represents the Southern Baptist Convention.