Major Henry Timothy Vakoc
Born: January 8, 1960
Died: June 20, 2009 in Robbinsdale, Minnesota
Chaplain (Major) Henry “Tim” Vakoc, of Robbinsdale, Minnesota was a military chaplain who was a well known and well loved Roman Catholic priest. He served as a parish priest in St. Anthony and Eagan before becoming an Army chaplain in 1996, and serving in Germany and Bosnia. A man of peace, Father Tim chose to endure the horror of war in order to bring the peace of Christ to America’s fighting men and women. He was wounded in the Iraq war by a roadside bomb as he was returning from celebrating mass with troops on May 29, 2004, the day before the 12th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. The blast cost him an eye and severely damaged his brain. He is believed to be the first military chaplain wounded in Iraq. Father Vakoc was first hospitalized for four months at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, and was transferred in a near coma to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis in October 2004. After many surgeries and infections, he slowly started to recognize friends and family, and began to communicate with squeezes of the hand or slight smiles. In the fall of 2006, he spoke for the first time in 2½ years. In recent years, he had been showing signs of physical and cognitive improvement. He had been living at St. Therese Care Center in New Hope and died after being taken to North Memorial Medical Center. He was 49. Father Vakoc received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He also received the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award from St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity and the Combat Action Badge in 2007, which is awarded to soldiers actively engaged in a hostile action by the enemy in a combat zone or imminent danger area.
Burial is at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota – Sec F Site 109