A Buddhist pennant appeared on a Navy ship earlier this week for the first time in the sea service’s history, the Navy announced.
The blue and white flag became one of the four official Navy religious pennants after U.S. Fleet Forces Command chaplain Capt. Brian Stamm put the banner into service in August.
The flag, which consists of a blue wheel of dharma symbol — or, Dharmachakra — against a white backdrop, first flew on the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer McFaul on Sept. 11 in observance of a Buddhist Dharma service held aboard the vessel. Navy regulations stipulate that religious flags be flown above the ensign during services.
“I want to share this special moment with my sailors and fellow Buddhist practitioners,” said Navy Chaplain Lt. Saejeong Kim, who led the service and is the only active-duty Buddhist chaplain in the service.
“While Buddhist representation in the U.S. military is not large, as a Buddhist chaplain in the fleet, I have been uniquely positioned to appeal to a broad cultural and faith spectrum in the growing number of sailors who identify as ‘spiritual but not religious.’”
Born in Chicago and raised in South Korea, Kim was ordained as a Won Buddhist priest in 2006, according to the release. She was commissioned as a Navy chaplain in 2017 and currently serves with Destroyer Squadron 2.
“McFaul is proud to fly the Buddhist pennant for the first time in the Navy as Chaplain Kim leads divine services at sea,” said Cmdr. Antonia Shey, McFaul’s commanding officer.
“While flying this pennant is a historic first today, Kim has faithfully provided exceptional care and religious guidance to sailors for many years. The support Kim provides my sailors is extraordinary.”
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media