Saturday, May 25, 2019

God's Warriors

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Oddly enough, when I was in the Air Force I had very little contact with chaplains. I wasn't much of a church-goer for a very long time, much to my regret these days. I think I went to church less than a handful of times in over 24 years. Yes, I'm making up for that these days, thanks to The Missus Herself.

That being said, I have always had a lot of respect for the clergy. I think Mom and Dad (mostly Mom) made sure of that. Truth be told, many of the men of the cloth I met over the years were good men and good pastors. Church was just something I wasn't ready for until I was in my mid-40s. (Not that my faith in the Lord ever lapsed. Let's just say that I had some odd ideas about religion for a very long time.)

Now I say "men," I have met one very good female pastor in my travels, she was the pastor at my Dad's funeral. My Mom, being something of a traditionalist, didn't think women should be pastors. The pastor at my Dad's funeral was the pastor of my Mom's church (mine as well when I was nobbut a lad) and she hadn't been to services in ages. After my Dad's funeral Mom returned to church. She still didn't think women should be pastors but was willing to admit that this particular pastor was very, very good at what she did.

The military clergy have always impressed me. Ministering to young men and women in peace and in war is not an easy job. I cannot imagine the agony they feel when having to give someone Last Rites who has yet to hit 30 years of age. I have written of these men before (apologies but until fairly recently they were all men) here, here, and here.

I've known three really good military chaplains since I retired, I count two of them as good friends and the other baptized my youngest granddaughter aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) out in Sandy Eggo a few years back (which I wrote of here). He not only baptized my granddaughter but provided some very good religious guidance to my son-in-law during one of his many deployments. A fine man of God right there.

(Source)
These men and women minister to those who are at war in a very meaningful way. In perhaps the toughest times any of those fine folks will ever see, the chaplain is there to comfort and guide. Sometimes though, the chaplains themselves are caught in the middle of battle and become casualties themselves. Here is the story of one of those fine men.

Father Henry Timothy "Tim" Vakoc, Major, US Army
January 8, 1960 – June 20, 2009


A good man, gone too soon.



28 comments:

  1. Godspeed Father.......

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  2. Hey AFSarge;

    And we don't forget the 4 pastors that stayed with their flock when their ship got torpedoed by a Uboat in the Atlantic and the picture of Father O'Callahan giving the last rites on the USS Franklin epitomized the Wartime Pastor service.

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    1. Both of those stories are linked above. I could never forget them.

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    2. Hey Old AFSarge;

      I didn't follow the link, My bad...I kinda jumped over them...*sorry*

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    3. Not to worry, I do that myself sometimes.

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    4. Which is mentioned in that old post.

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  3. Fr. Vincent Capodanno is another Chaplain worth mentioning. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_R._Capodanno

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    1. Truly a man who needs to be remembered. Servant of God indeed!

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  4. By the way, I re-read the TR baptism post and comments. I never responded to your question about the dog machine. Did you ever get your answer?

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    1. The kids all deny knowing of the existence of the dog machine, I think both that The Missus Herself and the Department of the Navy have sworn them to silence, knowing full well that I would go nuts around such a thing. Getting fat(ter) and putting a serious dent in the Nation's hot dog supply is not to be contemplated. So, "What dog machine Dad? Never heard of it."

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  5. Its a dusty weekend. Everywhere I turn.

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    1. It's understandable for those of us who really know what this weekend is about. I don't begrudge people their fun and their day off, it's just that someone has to remember.

      That's our job.

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    2. And you do it very well, sir.....

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  6. A dear friend sent me this this morning. These were some of his duties. It certainly fits in the "dusty" category.

    Never knew these flights were called Angel Flights. Sure fits though...

    https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=843347975754801. Hope the linky thing works. Never tried it before...

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    1. The link does work.

      Dusty in here this morning...

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  7. All the chaplains I met were the ones that truly instilled the faith into me. I only started questioning the Church (not God, but the worldly house thereof) after stopping attending military services and being exposed to the more morally flexible civilian priests.

    So my respect for military chaplains, at least those I have met and dealt with, is very high.

    The Old Ursuline Convent in New Orleans had, and may still have, a display of a WWII priest's portable alter and all the fixings, from personal wafer carrier for last rights to Holy Water bottle and all the vestments. Very sobering to think that a priest carried all or most of that close to the front lines (and I think the kit belonged to one priest who was hit, but it was a while ago.) (They also had a full display of the Order of St. Lazarus there (that would be a holy military order of Chivalry, for those wondering.)

    To die in war is bad. But these men made higher sacrifices. Godspeed, good chaplains, and stand over those that still live.

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    1. They carried their own version of "Full Battle Rattle", Beans.

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    2. Yes they did. And they were a prime target, like medics, for the Japanese during WWII.

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    3. Those bastards didn't fight with honor.

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  8. Ouch! Such a jolt to the old memory banks. Last chaplain killed in combat, Captain Dale Goetz, 1st/4th ID, was my late son's spiritual mentor. As a medic, my son had the sad duty of preparing the remains for transport. He was also part of the transport ceremony (pallbearer). It left a mark.

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  9. Don't forget Chaplin Dave Harvey!

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)