"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune: Omitted, all the voyages of their life Is bound in shallow's and in miseries." Shakespeare
Louisa Dobbins had a dream ---- It was
A L L that she had
Louisa was searching for something, but she did'nt know what. It came to her in a dream, and the entire course of her life was changed.
She dreamed she was marching on a field in a green "PT" uniform, even though she had never before see one. She is now Specialist 5 Louisa A Dobbins, Chaplain Assistant.
Dobbins has come a long way from the farm near Blythewood, SC, where she grew up. She has also influnced a lot of lives along the way. "I got married at seventeen because that's what most people did in those days," The multi-talented Dobbins explains. "As with most teenage marriages, it didn't work out."
She moved to Philadelphia and went to work as a nurses aide, a job she held until the requirement for nurses aides to be certified became effective. This left her without a job, "walking the streets and hungry."
"I walked into Temple University Health Sciences Center just by chance., she recalls. "I told this beautiful lady in a white uniform I'd mop floors or anything she had for me to do."
Evidently the lady in white saw something in Dobbins for she put her in charge of a training program for slow and underpriviledged children.
"She told me, 'You have the ability, Louisa, or I wouldn't give you the job'. It made me feel great that she saw such potential in me.
Dobbins advanced as far as possible in this job, but felt something was missing in her life, That she had something important to do. Her preacher told her to pray for guidance. After her prayer, she went to sleep and had the dream which changed her life.
"When I woke up, I said, 'That's an Army uniform.' There must be a job there for me to do."
She enlisted in the Army at the age of 30 and took basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Because of her maturity and gregariousness, she turned out to be the morale booster for the younger trainees.
"Some of them were really having a rough time," she recalls. "I'd try to make them laugh and explain to them that the drill sergeants were just doing their job. We'd also sing a lot and pray together."
Dobbins attended Trainee Leadership School and earned a stripe. She had been given the choice of being assigned to Fort Ord, California, as a personnel specialist or Fort Jackson as a chaplain assistant.
Choosing the latter, she attended the Chaplains Assistant School and was named Soldier of the Class and received another promotion. In November, 1974, she was assigned as a chaplains assistant in the 5th BT Brigade.
"I was glad to be assigned to a basic training unit, because I knew their problems," she says, "They often come to the Chapel for assistance, to pray or just to talk. I'm a good person to talk to."
She was then assigned to the Reception Station and was pulled for a short time to work as a data collector for the Department of Defense BIET (Basic Initial Entry Training) test. She was transfered to the 4th Brigade after being promoted to E-5.
"I made it in two years," she proudly recalls. "Hard work will get you any thing you want!"
Since being assigned to the 4th Brigade, Dobbins has become involved in activities too numerous to mention.
Although she had never thought seriously about singing, she was humming one day when Captain Curtis Taylor was playing the organ in the chapel, A very accomplished, trained musican Taylor recognized her talent and began working with her.
"I started singing for all the Sunday morning worship services," Dobbins says, "I still don't believe I'm that good". (She won a talent contest in 1975 during the WAC anniversary.)
Dobbins organized a Gospel Choir here and was attached to the Human Relations Division for the Dr. Martin Luther King Observance and Black History Month. She and Capt. Taylor, realizing the need for Black programs, have done a series of productions, including the funeral scene from "Pearlie" and "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope."
"I didn't know these things were in me until I came in the Army," she says, "It shocked me. I found out you can do anything if you want to." Her duties in the 4th Brigade go beyond those of most chaplain assistants, a situation of which she is very proud of.
"I'm one of the fortunate, because I am allowed to counsel," she explains. "When a trainee comes in, I talk to him to find out if he needs to see the chaplain. Sometimes they just need a little guidance and encouragement. I can give them the benefits of the rough spots that I came over to get here."
Dobbins also facilitated chaplain's retreats and assisted with the special Sunday morning worship service which is geared for blacks at chapel 4. It is an informal style of worship, which she feels everyone can relate to.
The service also includes a children's portion conducted by a different person each week. Dobbins' lastest contribution to this was her rendition of "The Greatest Love of All".
"Children need to know that love must start from within themselves," she emphasizes. "I want to leave them with that when I go."
Dobbins is scheduled to attend the Department of Defense Human Relation School at Patrick, Air Force Base, Florida, in January (1978), an experience she is looking forward to after having worked with the Post Human Relation Division.
"I saw the close contact they had with others," she recalls. "They are able to do more counseling than a chaplain's assistant."
"I feel the school will make me more familiar with the cultural backgrounds so I can feel and understand their problem," she continues. "If a person comes to me with what I think is a small problem, I must realize it is a big problem to him and give him the same attention I would anyone else."
Dobbins reflects on the adminestrator who hired her for her first important job, Stating she would like to be the same type of person."
"She saw so much inside of other people, and wasn't afraid to say it," she remembers. "When somebody needs you, reach out to them. It might change their entire life and yours as well"
"God gave me a gift to communicate with others, and I must use that gift to limits of my ability."
~~~~~~Louisa A Dobbins~~~~~~