Vollink, Lawrence (Interview transcript and video), 2019


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Vollink, Lawrence (Interview transcript and video), 2019


Smither, James (Interviewer)
WKTV (Wyoming, Mich.)


Lawrence Vollink was born in the Burton Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he attended local schools and graduated high school in 1965. His father was a deeply religious, poor man with only an eighth-grade education and his mother did not work, but Vollink believed that he lived a comfortable childhood. With the financial help of his grandfather, he attended Great Lakes Bible College and graduated in 1970, becoming a minister. As a minister, Vollink was exempt from the draft and was encouraged to go back to Bible College for his master’s degree so he could become a military chaplain. In 1980, he was admitted into the military as an Army Chaplain at the rank of Captain after attending a reduced Basic Training Course at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. He would console his men over issues such as suicide, depression, stress, and insubordination. After three years at Fort Campbell, Vollink was transferred to Germany where he was assigned to the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AADCOM), which had its units scattered all over the country. He then attended a second Chaplain School in the United States for six months before he was promoted to Major and stationed at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1990, Vollink was working at Selfridge when the United States invaded Kuwait and made the decision to remain in Michigan instead of deploying with his former unit from Fort Carson. After the conclusion of the invasion, he provided advice to his military commanders on how to better help and receive the troops returning home from deployment. In 1992, Vollink’s twenty years of active-duty service were up, so he joined the Army Reserves. He later became the State Chaplain, and then the National Chaplain, for the American Legion, serving the institution for a total of fifteen years. Afterwards, he joined the Civil Air Patrol as the organization’s Wing Chaplain in 2012 out of Pennsylvania. Vollink also worked smaller jobs for the VA and Hospice while working for the American Legion and Civil Air Patrol. Reflecting upon his time in the service, Vollink believed that God helped him not only to perform his job effectively, but also to be supportive of his men. Thus, he believed the military was his true calling and that he was used as a tool of God to do good in the military.




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Grand Valley State University Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI, 49401.


Veterans History Project (U.S.)






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Vollink, Lawrence, “Vollink, Lawrence (Interview transcript and video), 2019,” Digital Collections, accessed February 21, 2024, https://digitalcollections.library.gvsu.edu/document/48916.
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