This year the Army Chaplain Corps celebrates its 242nd anniversary. We know about chaplains and chaplain assistants, who throughout history dedicated their lives to the service, truly living the Corps’ motto “For God and Country.”
However, there are some who gave all.
Chaplain (Capt.) Dale Goetz, 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was killed in action on Aug. 30, 2010, in Afghanistan, and Staff Sgt. Christopher Stout, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed in action on July 13, 2010, in Afghanistan.
These two unit ministry team members were the first killed in combat since the Vietnam War.
Another significant sacrifice was made Feb. 3, 1943, during World War II, by four Army chaplains who ministered to Soldiers and sailors who were on a sinking ship. Giving up their life jackets the chaplains sacrificed themselves as the SS Dorchester sank. These chaplains became known as “The Four Chaplains” – Chap. (1st Lt.) George Fox, Chap. (1st Lt.) Alexander Goode, Chap. (1st Lt.) Clark Poling and Chap. (1st Lt.) John Washington.
During the Battle of Unsan in the Korean War, Chap. (Capt.) Emil Joseph Kapaun was serving Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On Nov. 1-2, 1950, “as Chinese communist forces encircled the battalion, he moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under direct enemy fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers,” according to his Medal of Honor citation.
He was taken prisoner on Nov. 2, 1950, and died May 23, 1951 while in captivity. He was one of 12 chaplains to die during the Korean War, of those four Army chaplains were taken prisoner and all died while in captivity.
During the Vietnam War, Chap. (Maj.) Charles Joseph Watters was serving with A Company, 173rd Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade.
He distinguished himself on Nov. 19, 1967, during an assault in the vicinity of Dak To, Vietnam.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, Watters, “unarmed and completely exposed, moved among, as well as in front of, the advancing troops, giving aid to the wounded, assisting in their evacuation, giving words of encouragement and administering the last rites to the dying.” He died while giving aid and comfort to wounded and dying Soldiers.
The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps continues its legacy to train men and women who selflessly serve and live-up to the phrase “For God and Country.”