REGION - Rev. Dale Pepper of Wallenpaupack Lake Estates retired from the Army National Guard after 26 years.

Most of that time was spent in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area with the 55th Brigade and the 109th Infantry Battalion, first as a Chaplain candidate and ten as a State Chaplain from 1988 to 2002, moving from 2nd Lieutenant to 1st Lieutenant, Captain and Major.

He visited armories in West Pittston, Berwick, Hometown, Tamaqua and Scranton.

As a major, Rev. Pepper went with the 55th to Germany from June 2002 to March 2003. Besides Germany, he also toured France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Bavaria (province of Germany) and Luxembourg, while visiting soldiers in other bases.

After coming back from Germany, Rev. Pepper was Chaplain for the 2nd-103rd Armor until Feb. 2006 and the Special Troops Battalion before returning to the 55th Brigade, all in Scranton, until Dec. 2007.

From Dec. 2007 to Jan. 2009 Rev. Pepper was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd-103rd Armor Battalion out of Lewisburg.

He spent his time there visiting 12 bases in Afghanistan, often flying at night either by helicopter or plane.

After returning to the 55th in March 2009, Rev. Pepper was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and in Feb. 2010, went to Harrisburg as Assistant Division Chaplain of the 28th Infantry Division until July 2012.

In Aug. 2012, Rev. Pepper transferred from the Pennsylvania Guard to the Vermont Guard as Joint Forces Chaplain, making the six-hour drive each month to Colchester, VT.

In Sept. 2012, he became Senior Army Chaplain and was promoted to Colonel on March 5, 2013 (which was his birthday) until the present.

Chaplain Pepper retired on March 9 at a special ceremony at the Vermont National Guard Armor.

Pepper was born and raised in Honesdale and graduated from the Wayne Highlands School District in 1972.

He taught in the elementary school for seven years after receiving teaching degrees from then Shippensburg State College and the University of Scranton.

Pepper received his seminary degree from Drew University in New Jersey in 1987 and has served the United Methodist, American Baptist and Presbyterian churches in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

He is now serving St. John's Primitive Methodist Church in Avoca. He is also a full time Chaplain at SCI Waymart.

Pepper has been married to Carolyn, who is from Dunmore, for over 33 years. They have been living in Wallenpaupack Lake Estates full time for 18 years.

Carolyn was able to share in some trips to Chaplains' conferences and some special formal ceremonies with the Army National Guard.

Two special trips were in 2002 to visit Chaplain Pepper in Germany and 2006 to the Military Resort in Hawaii for their 25th Anniversary.

She was able to visit Vermont several times during the last two years, including the retirement ceremony.

As a fitting sendoff, just before the ferry docked on the New York side of Lake Champlain, an American Bald Eagle flew nearby, landing on the ice before flying away.