Chaplain died serving intangible needs of troops

Friday, September 3, 2010

An army travels on its stomach, the old adage says, with hundreds behind the scenes working hard to supply those on the front line with the food, supplies and weapons they need to carry the fight to the enemy.

But not everything can be packaged in plastic like an MRE or parachuted on a pallet out of the back of a transport plane.

Overtly religious or not, soldiers are human beings who have a dimension that can't be served by the traditional physical supply lines.

That was the need Army Capt. Dale Goetz was dedicated to serving when he hopped a ride on an armored vehicle with four other soldiers in southern Afghanistan on Monday to go where his services as a chaplain were needed.

His job is done.

Somewhere along the road, an improvised explosive device went exploded, killing all five.

Goetz, 43, grew up in Hood River, Oregon, where he graduated in 1986 from the Baptist Christian private school, which is called Horizon Christian.

He became a pastor in White, S.D., where he leaves a wife and three children, and joined the Army in 2002. He was on his second deployment, serving in Iraq in 2004.

Goetz, serving with the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado, is officially the first Army clergyman to die in combat since a chaplain was a killed by a mine in Vietnam in October 1970. Another Army chaplain, Tim Vacok, was severely injured in Iraq in 2006, and died following a fall in a nursing home in 2009.

Goetz's death was another illustration of the true cost of combat, paid by those who only want to serve their fellow man. Let's hope the full weight of their sacrifice is measured before troops are again called upon to go into combat.

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