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11/2/2011 3:10:00 PM
Even from Iraq, military man leads Silverton youth
Appleton family photo
Lt. Col. Phillip Appleton with his family.
Appleton family photo
Lt. Col. Phillip Appleton with his family.
Clarice Keating
Of the Catholic Sentinel

SILVERTON — Young Catholics of Silverton can count on U.S. Army Lt. Col. Phillip Appleton to make his point during youth ministry meetings — even if he’s halfway around the world.

While Appleton served last year in Iraq, he deployed messages to the kids which were read aloud during their regular meetings.

Before heading out for a mission in December 2010 to Tikrit and Mosul, Appleton shared stories about growing up in a poor family. This was a lesson he learned after stealing money to buy candy as a little boy:  “I quickly realized how my actions had been rotting me from the inside out. The guilt, the shame, knowing that I was doing something wrong and yet did it anyways.”

Another email was sent last March: “Your life is about bridges. Early in life, as a young adult, your world has many bridges that enable you to cross the river to reach your goals. Every decision you make determines whether you keep the bridges or destroy them.”

For Appleton, the youth group involvement started as another way for the dad to spend time with his wife Kari and their three teenage daughters. But he soon realized how valuable it was for the members of the youth ministry to have adult perspective about faith and life.

Appleton’s “thoughts of the week” started before his deployment as a way to help the youth in Silverton understand that, when they wrestle with personal challenges, they’re not alone.

Even being halfway across the world wasn’t going to stop Appleton from sending his message .

“He is the dad who anyone can go to,” said Annie Schaefer, secretary and business manager at the parish.  “He’s a vital part of the our church.”

As a 25-year military man, Appleton served his first tour of duty in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. He arrived home from his second tour, where he was responsible for securing logistics of northern and central portions of Iraq, on Sept. 15.

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