Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Ch (MAJ) Tim Vakoc, RIP
Chaplain (MAJ) Henry Timothy Vakoc, the Army's sole chaplain to have been severely wounded in Iraq, died June 20, five years after an improvised explosive device injured him on the drive back to camp from celebrating Sunday Mass for Soldiers in the field. The IED attack occurred on the 12th anniversary of his ordination as a Roman Catholic priest, May 29, 2004, as he drove along the road returning to his unit, the 44th Corps Support Battalion in Mosul. The roadside explosion gravely wounded him, taking his left eye, paralyzing his left side and leaving him with a traumatic brain injury. He was evacuated to Germany and later to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and then to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis, near his hometown of Robbindale where he continued to have numerous surgeries and infections. He was later awarded a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge before being medically retired. In an email to the National Chaplain Register before he was wounded, Chaplain Vacoc referred to his ministry of presence: "I live with the soldiers, work with them, eat with them, care for them, listen to them. They know if you're real and genuinely care or not. The soldiers see me out there with them and that makes a difference." We'll all miss you, Fr Tim.