Memo to Raphael Warnock: Hundreds of U.S. Chaplains Have Been Killed in the Line of Duty

Chaplain (Major General) Thomas Solhjem, U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, and Sergeant Major Ralph Martinez, Chaplain Corps Regimental Sergeant Major, lay a wreath at Chaplains Hill in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery in honor of the Army Chaplain Corps 245th birthday, July 29, 2020.
(Elizabeth Fraser/Arlington National Cemetery)

As there is much talk of the radical Georgia Democrat’s claim that Americans cannot serve both God and the military, it is worth recalling that there is in fact a category of Americans — military chaplains — who must rate an extra dose of enmity from the controversial wanna-senator.

Hundreds of chaplains of all faiths — as many as 419 since the Civil War — are believed to have died in the line of duty, killed in action or dying in prisoner-of war-camps, often while tending to the wounded and dying.

The most recent chaplain to die while serving the men and women of our armed forces was Army captain Dale Goetz, a Baptist minister, husband, and father of three — his life, and those of four other soldiers, ended in Afghanistan on September 3, 2010, when a roadside IED bomb exploded.

The first chaplain to die was Emmeran Bliemel, a Roman Catholic priest serving Tennessee soldiers in the Civil War — he was killed by cannonball fire on August 31, 1864, while giving absolution to a dying Confederate colonel at the Battle of Jonesboro.

For those curious of the battle’s whereabouts, it happened in . . . Georgia.

Today is the 53rd anniversary of the death of another U.S. Army chaplain, Major Charles Joseph Watters. Selflessly helping the wounded at the Battle of Dak To, he exposed himself constantly to enemy fire, which eventually felled him. “KIA,” as the acronym goes. So remarkable were the actions of the Catholic priest from New Jersey that in 1969 he posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Its citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Chaplain Watters distinguished himself during an assault in the vicinity of Dak To. Chaplain Watters was moving with one of the companies when it engaged a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged and the casualties mounted, Chaplain Watters, with complete disregard for his safety, rushed forward to the line of contact. Unarmed and completely exposed, he 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. When a wounded paratrooper was standing in shock in front of the assaulting forces, Chaplain Watters ran forward, picked the man up on his shoulders and carried him to safety. As the troopers battled to the first enemy entrenchment, Chaplain Watters ran through the intense enemy fire to the front of the entrenchment to aid a fallen comrade. A short time later, the paratroopers pulled back in preparation for a second assault. Chaplain Watters exposed himself to both friendly and enemy fire between the two forces in order to recover two wounded soldiers. Later, when the battalion was forced to pull back into a perimeter, Chaplain Watters noticed that several wounded soldiers were lying outside the newly formed perimeter. Without hesitation and ignoring attempts to restrain him, Chaplain Watters left the perimeter three times in the face of small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire to carry and to assist the injured troopers to safety. Satisfied that all of the wounded were inside the perimeter, he began aiding the medics — applying field bandages to open wounds, obtaining and serving food and water, giving spiritual and mental strength and comfort. During his ministering, he moved out to the perimeter from position to position redistributing food and water, and tending to the needs of his men. Chaplain Watters was giving aid to the wounded when he himself was mortally wounded. Chaplain Watters’ unyielding perseverance and selfless devotion to his comrades was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

Sounds kind of ungodly! Regardless, this is completely speculative, but . . . who would doubt that Watters would have forgiven Warnock for considering him (and all other chaplains, and all the men and women in uniform) a chump?

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