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Army veteran now serves as local pastor

Army veteran now serves as local pastor

By Angela Morefield

“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pastor and G.I. Joe. So, I was able to do both,” said Luke Watt, assistant pastor of St. John Lutheran Church on Southeastern Avenue.

Watt, an Army veteran, was born and raised as a Lutheran in Wood River, NE. “I feel like life was pointing me in the direction of being a pastor,” he said. After graduating from Heartland Lutheran High School in 2005, Watt decided to enlist in the United States Army. He packed his bags, said his goodbyes and headed to Fort Sill in Oklahoma for basic training.

During basic training, Watt specialized in artillery training and was a cannon crew member. Fort Sill has a three-pronged approach to training and preparedness. It is comprised of the Field Artillery School, the primary training facility for field artillery soldiers and Marines worldwide; the Field Artillery Training Center, home of basic combat, one-station unit training and advanced individual training, and is the largest field artillery complex in the free world.

Luke Watt is an assistant pastor at St. John Lutheran Church. (Submitted photos)

After basic training at Fort Sill, Watt went on to Fort Hood in Texas until March 2006, when he was deployed to Camp Taji in Iraq. The camp is located in a rural region, north of the city of Baghdad in the Baghdad Governorate. Watt spent his first nine months of deployment in Iraq working in base, gate security and color guard. After his time in Iraq, Watt traveled back to Fort Hood, TX, where he spent 15 months training for deployment to go back to Iraq for a second time.

In March 2008, Watt went back to Iraq. He was stationed at Camp Prosperity in Baghdad, also known as the as-Salam Palace, previously a home of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, and is now an Iraqi military base. Watt spent a year at Camp Prosperity before returning to Fort Hood in March 2009. He spent his remaining time in the Army at Fort Hood until he was released from service Christmas Day, 2009 and returned home to Nebraska.

“Some of my best memories are laughing with my brothers while we were in Iraq,” Watt said. “It’s hard being there, that’s an understatement, but I laughed the hardest in my life while I was in Iraq. The guys I was with, the camaraderie. There’s plenty of bad stuff, and I will always cherish the memories of laughing. Think of the better moments.”

Pastor Watt was deployed to Camp Taji in Iraq in 2006

Watt then applied to Concordia University in Nebraska. For four-and a-half years, he studied secondary education, theology and social science. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in May 2014, he decided to join the Concordia Seminary in St Louis, where he studied as a pastor.

Watt spent a year interning before graduating in 2018 with a Master of Divinity degree. The following summer, he moved to Indiana to be an assistant pastor at St. John Lutheran Church and school. “I like serving and helping people and bringing theology into their lives,” he said.

Watt has only been in Indiana for about four months but said his main goal is to learn about his community and city and how to best serve the residents. “The staff at the church has been very helpful, and the church members and everyone are so welcoming.” Watt said. “Being in the Army is physically demanding and mentally tough, but being a pastor is the opposite.”

Watt is currently working on his Master of Sacred Theology through Concordia Seminary.

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