(RNS) A Baptist minister from Oregon who was killed in Afghanistan on Monday (Aug. 30) is the first Army chaplain to die in combat since Vietnam, according to the Army.
Capt. Dale Allen Goetz, 43, died in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan’s Arghandab River Valley. He had been in Afghanistan less than a month. Four other Fort Carson, Colo., soldiers were also killed in the attack.
Goetz is the 124th service member with strong ties to Oregon to die in Afghanistan or Iraq. But as a chaplain, he was a noncombatant and unarmed.
The more than 400 Army chaplains in Iraq or Afghanistan are military officers. Their job is to reach soldiers on the battlefield, to provide religious support and to perform services or rites, said Lt. Col. Carleton Birch, a spokesman for the Army Chief of Chaplains.
An armed chaplain’s assistant travels with each. The first assistant to die in the wars was killed in Afghanistan last month, Birch said.
Goetz attended Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Watertown, Wis. He completed his Master of Divinity degree at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA. He was pastor of a church in White, S.D., until he joined the Army and began his work toward chaplaincy in 2000.
He served with the infantry at Fort Lewis, Wash., then three years in Okinawa, Japan, until he was transferred to Colorado in January. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson. He served 11 months in Iraq in 2004-05.
Survivors include his wife and three children ages 10, 8 and 1. Funeral services are planned in Colorado Springs, Colo., with burial at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.