Chaplain (Maj.) Bartz has served with New York Air Guard's 107th Attack Wing since 2017
Submitted by the New York Air Guard
New York Air National Guard Chaplain (Maj.) Jeffery Bartz, who serves as the head pastor of Batavia's Grace Baptist Church in civilian life, has been named the top chaplain in the 100,000-member Air National Guard.
Bartz received the Air National Guard's Samuel Stone Award, which is presented to the outstanding Air Guard chaplain each year, during a June 3 ceremony at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
The award was presented by Col. Leah Boling, the director of the Air National Guard Chaplain Corps, while 100 airmen and members of Bartz's Batavia congregation looked on.
The Samuel Stone Award takes its name from a puritan minister who helped found Hartford, Connecticut, and served as a chaplain to colonial militia troops fighting against New England's Pequot tribe in 1637.
Receiving this award made him feel "very humbled and undeserving," Bartz said.
"An award of this caliber is just a reflection of the caliber of my team. I didn't do this on my own," he said.
Col. Andrew Carlson, the commander of the 107th, who nominated Bartz for the award, praised him for his service to the wing's airmen and families.
"He epitomizes the selfless dedication required of our service, and represents the very best of the United States Air Force Chaplain Corps," Carlson said.
Bartz, who has been associated with the Grace Baptist Church for 16 years, joined the New York Air National Guard's 107th Attack Wing in 2017 as the senior protestant chaplain at age 37.
He had wanted to serve in the military, but put it off to become a pastor, Bartz said. When he was approached and asked to serve in the Guard, he decided this was a way to do both, he explained.
In 2020, he became the wing chaplain, overseeing a team of two other chaplains and four religious affairs airmen.
The 107th Attack Wing operates the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. Airman operating from a command post at the base fly aircraft in support of United States and allied troops around the world.
The wing also includes two remote units: the 222nd Command and Control Squadron and the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron.
The 222nd Command and Control Squadron in Rome assists the National Reconnaissance Office in operating the United States fleet of surveillance satellites from its base in Virginia.
The 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, located at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, fields airmen trained to work with ground force units to direct air strikes onto enemy targets.
As wing chaplain, Bartz created programs to assist the MQ-9 operators in coping with the stresses of their jobs. He also implemented a program to visit the remote units and provide pastoral care and counseling to their airmen.
He made himself available to counsel wing members and family members as required and oversaw "Yellow Ribbon" programs to help families and Airmen reintegrate following deployments.
From March to June 2020, Bartz served as the chaplain for the New York National Guard forces staffing COVID-19 vaccination sites and testing locations across Western New York.
He also played a key role when the wing responded to the Buffalo Christmas blizzard in 2022. He worked with the wing's fatality search and recovery team as they went about the grim business of assisting the city in recovering the remains of people who died during the storm.
In his civilian role, Bartz mobilized his Grace Baptist Church congregation to aid travelers stranded in Batavia from Dec. 23-26 due to the blizzard. They provided housing and food, and a Christmas worship service, to people from around the world who were stranded when the roads closed.
Bartz holds a bachelor of science in Bible from Clarks Summit University in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania; and a master of divinity from Baptist Bible Seminary, which is also in Clarks Summit. And he holds a doctor of ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
His military awards include the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the New York State Physical Fitness Ribbon.