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)
“Faith in God is the heartbeat of men and the lifeblood of nations. The United States Army believes in this doctrine…” begins an Army chaplain recruiting brochure from 1954. it continues:
The emergence of the United States as the champion of democracy and freedom under God has been built on the twin bulwarks of faith in God and high moral principle. To guard this heritage and to insure that it will never be lost, the Army has qualified chaplains as part of its armament.
This red, black and white brochure goes on to tell of the tradition of chaplaincy from the Egyptians, 16 centuries before the Christian era, through the Hebrews and Romans. It speaks of chaplains who served during the French and Indian War then “in every war in which this country has engaged.”
It goes on to describe the many opportunities for “real service” as chaplains in the United States Army and the urgent need for “many men to make great sacrifices for the cause of liberty,” sacrifices which “must be shared and supported by the churches of the Nation.”
It concludes with a few lines from the official Chaplains’ March, Soldiers of God, which was sure to inspire prospective candidates for the chaplaincy:
Soldiers of God, we serve Him faithfully
and march in his name
Through thunder and flame
Wherever the ‘call’ may be
Trusting in God, His strength we lean upon
As into the fight the Legions of Light,
The Soldiers of God, march on …