Eight years ago (30 August 2010), Chaplain Dale Goetz was killed in Afghanistan ministering to his Soldiers, the first chaplain to die in combat since the Vietnam War. Wanting his sacrifice to not be forgotten, I’m reposting this short prayer from a Memorial Ceremony for him at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School held a few days after he died.
FT. JACKSON, SC (3 Sep 10) – Recently, the Chaplain Corps lost one of its finest chaplains, Chaplain (CPT) Dale Goetz, in Afghanistan. We received the news here at the Chaplain School while attending the Chaplain Captain’s Career Course. Since many of us knew Dale, and the rest of us felt the camaraderie of a “Brother in Arms,” we felt it appropriate to have a Memorial Service for him. My part was to pray the benediction. As I prepared the prayer, I felt very impressed that Dale needed to be remembered. His sacrifice needed to be remembered. As I post it here, I pray it again . . . -Daryl
Our most Gracious God and Father,
We thank you for your presence and love which helps us to endure through difficult times. We thank you for moments like these when we don’t have to be alone but can gather among brothers and sisters in the faith. We thank you for the peace that you have brought us today, your peace—that can exist within us even when all around us there is no peace.
As much as you comfort us who have gathered here today, we pray that in an even greater measure you will comfort Dale’s family, especially his wife Christy and their three sons Landon, Caleb and Joel. Be for them all that they need you to be just now and continue to provide for them in every way in the days, weeks, months and years ahead that they face life without their husband, father and son.
Finally Lord, we pray that you will bring real peace to our land, so that we can rest in safety and comfort and not have to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way. Bring to us, we humbly ask you, the time when parents don’t have to grieve the loss of their children killed in war; hasten the day when spouses don’t have to say goodbye to their loved ones because they serve their country; provide for us, dear Father, a world whose children do not have to grow up fatherless because of the sin that envelopes us; and be victorious, Almighty God, over the Evil One, establish your Kingdom on Earth finally and forever, that we may enjoy your loving and peaceful presence for all eternity.
Go with us now, Lord we pray, as we reluctantly return to the world out there. Please don’t let us soon forget our brother Dale but help us to honor his sacrifice through our lives lived for your glory and Christ’s life lived through us.
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)
It didn’t take long until the permanent Chaplain School that was reestablished to handle the influx of chaplains during WW2 outgrew its capacity at Fort Benjamin Harrison and moved to Harvard University where it remained until nearly the end of the war.
At least one chaplain-in-training enjoyed his time at the Chaplain School at Harvard, according to a postcard he sent to friends in West Virginia in January 1943. On the postcard he writes:
Chaplain (1st Lt) Howard Amick; Section 5-Chaplains School; Harvard- Cambridge Mass
Did the high water of a few weeks ago get up to your place? School is going fine & I am enjoying it a lot. Hope all of you are kicking around. Give my regards to the Imhoff Household.
By necessity, postcards are brief, but it’s interesting to see one written by a student who in just a few weeks may be a chaplain ministering to soldiers in combat. However, at least initially Chaplain Amick was assigned to the 17th Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. He entered the chaplaincy after pastoring Warwood Lutheran Church in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Here’s the original postcard:
Army Chaplain School to Celebrate Centennial in July
Army chaplaincy has much to celebrate in 2018 – the 243rd birthday of the Army Chaplain Corps and the 100 year anniversary of the Army Chaplain School.
The saying goes, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” While the veracity of that saying is
up for debate, one thing is true: if a Soldier is in a foxhole, there is an Army chaplain and
religious affairs specialist close by.
On July 20, the Army Chaplaincy will converge on Columbia, South Carolina, to hold the Centennial Celebration of the Army Chaplain School and to recognize the Army Chaplain Corps 243 Years of service.
The event will be held at the University of South Carolina Alumni Center, 900 Senate
Street, Columbia, South Carolina. All are welcome. For ticket information visit
https://www.eventbrite.com/o/united-states-army-chaplain-center-and-school-17341728260. This will be an evening of fun and inspiration as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Army Chaplain School by “Looking back … launching forward,” said Chap. (Col.) Jeffery D. Hawkins, commandant of the U.S. Army Chaplaincy Center and School.
For 243 Years just as the Army itself, chaplains have served to “bring God to Soldiers and Soldiers to God.”
It was Continental Army Commander, Gen. George Washing- ton who is credited with saying, “We need chaplains.” And on his request to the Continental Congress, chaplains were established as part of the Army on July 25, 1775.
Army chaplains have stood alongside America’s fighting men and women during all of our wars. Some are buried in Arlington National Cemetery and cemeteries across the country. On the campus of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson is a memorial garden with the names of chaplains and religious affairs specialist wars, conflicts and attacks on our homeland.
Eight have been awarded the Medal of Honor: Chap. John Whitehead, Civil War; Chap. Francis B. Hall, Civil War; 1st. Lt. James Hill, Civil War; Chap. Milton L. Haney, Civil War; Calvin P. Titus, Battle of Peking; Chap. (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun, Korea; Chap. (Maj.) Charles J. Watters, Vietnam; Chap. (Capt.) Angelo J. Liteky, Vietnam.
The Army Chief of Chaplains, Chap. (Maj. Gen.) Paul Hurley has charged Army chaplains to “Live the Call Fiercely” as they go out among units to carry out their duties to nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the fallen.
The importance of chaplains in the Army was fully realized with the establishment of the Army
The U.S. Army Chaplain School’s first session began March 3, 1918, to orient civilian clergymen to Army life. Originally located at Fort Monroe, Virginia, the five-week course consisted of military law, international law, Army regulations, service customs, hygiene, first aid and horsemanship. Chap. (Maj.) Aldred A. Pruden was appointed as the school’s first commandant. USACHCS re-located to Fort Jackson, South Carolina in 1996.
“Here at USACHCS we are ‘Shaping servant leaders … of unmatched character, competence and
connection … for God and country,’” Hawkins said.
The USACHCS trains chaplains and religious affairs specialists/NCOs to provide religious support to America’s Army and their families while assisting commanders in ensuring the right of free exercise of religion for all Soldiers.
Over 20 courses are offered to the chaplains and the religious affairs specialists/NCOs to
include the Chaplain Officer Basic Leader Course, residence and non-residence Chaplain
Captain Career Course, Brigade Chaplain Course, Advanced Individual Training and the Lieutenant Colonel Course. Functional Courses include the Resource Manager Course and the Fund Clerk Course.
In 2017, 1390 chaplains, chaplain candidates and religious affairs specialists received instruction in a variety of courses. The different components represented are: 477 active duty, 361 National Guard, 551 Reserve and 1 international student.
The religious affairs specialist also helps ensure a Soldier’s spiritual wellness is taken care of.
Religious affairs specialist training began as the Enlisted Assistant Basic Course in
1950 at the Chaplain School then located at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. In 1996, the U.S.
Army Chaplain Center and School, including both officer and enlisted courses, moved to its present home at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Together, the chaplain and religious affairs specialist make up the Unit Ministry Team. The UMT provides religious sup- port and advice to the commander. It is the duty and responsibility of the religious affairs specialist along with their Chap- lain to tend to the spirit of each Soldier. While the chaplain is a non-combatant, the religious affairs specialist is responsible for the security of the team, and is fully trained in Soldier tasks and religious support matters.
Today, there are chaplains and religious affairs specialists serving the Army in active duty, Reserve and National Guard units around the world.
Article data: written by Mel Slater, Army Chaplain Center and School Public Affairs. Article and photos first appeared in the Fort Jackson Leader, 4 July 2018, pgs. 6 & 20. Accessed 5 July 2018.