28 January 2019
Lloyd Salmon is a church minister who likes to push himself beyond his comfort zone.
However, it took a lot of hard work, fitness and prayer to come through the Royal New Zealand Navy’s (RNZN) officer training regime as the RNZN’s newest chaplain.
Mr Salmon, 46, graduated as a midshipman in December after 22 weeks of Junior Officer Common Training.
While growing up on a dairy farm north of Whangarei, Mr Salmon had considered joining the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). But instead “life happened”, he went to polytech, trained in engineering and ran a construction company with his brother.
“Becoming involved in a church is different for everyone,” Mr Salmon said. “My experience was like a ship turning around, and moving in the right direction.
“My wife and I started going to church early in our marriage. Becoming part of a faith community anchored our family. As time went on I felt the call to become a minister.”
Now based in Waiuku, he led a team of chaplains to Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake, and saw the work being done by the NZDF chaplains there.
“They suggested NZDF chaplaincy would be a good fit for me, which it is.”
A full-time chaplaincy job came up with the RNZN and he took the plunge.
“We have a small farm and I get out, but this is a different level of fitness. I lost 10 kilograms quite early on.”
Comradeship among his classmates, invariably a lot younger than him, was a big factor.
“You feed off each other, encourage each other. I did it, with the grace of God – and a lot of prayer.”
Graduation was a special moment for classmates and their families, he said.
“You look back at all you’ve achieved – it’s a great feeling.”
There was still plenty to learn as an RNZN operative, and he was still finding his way around Devonport Naval Base, he said.
“This definitely feels right. You’ll never get bored doing this. There’s always a challenge, and I like challenges. This is something I can definitely see myself doing for a long time.”