Death of War Zone Army Chaplain Marks 1st for U.S. in 40 Years

Capt. Dale Goetz is the first U.S. Army chaplain killed in action in 40 years, the military announced Thursday.

Goetz, 43, was killed near Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device struck his convoy as it was traveling on Aug. 30. Four other soldiers were also killed but Goetz was the first U.S. military chaplain killed in action since the Vietnam War.

The last Army chaplain that died in action was Phillip Nichols, who was killed by a concealed enemy explosive in Vietnam in October of 1970, said Chaplain Carleton Birch, a spokesman for the Army chief of chaplains, to The Associated Press.

"Dale was a selfless servant of God, a devoted husband and father, a strong American patriot, and a compassionate spiritual leader whose love for soldiers was only surpassed by his firm commitment to living his calling as a United States Army Chaplain," said the Army Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver in a statement.

Goetz served as a chaplain in 4th Infantry Division for the 66th Armor Regiment's 1st Battalion. Before joining the army as a chaplain in 2000, Goetz served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in his hometown of White, S.D.. Prior to his current assignment in Afghanistan, Goetz was a chaplain in Iraq for a year in 2004.

Goetz is survived by his wife, Christy, and their three sons – Landon, Caleb and Joel. His funeral has been scheduled for Sept. 8 in Fort Carson, Colo., where the 4th Infantry Division is based.