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Army chaplain first to die in combat since Vietnam


(RNS) A Baptist minister from Oregon who was killed in Afghanistan on 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.

As a chaplain, Goetz 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.

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.