In honor of all those who served perhaps just one example of valor will serve to express gratitude:
Father Vince Capodanno was Maryknoll missionary priest. He was sent first to the missions in Taiwan and later joined the US Navy and served with the 7th Marines in Vietnam and then, after working at the naval hosptial, with the 5th Marines.
On 4 September 1967 there was a terrible battle in Que-Son Valley. As the battle developed Fr. Capodanno heard over the radio that things were getting dicey and so he requested to go out with M company.
As they approached the small village of Chau Lam, they were caught under fire on a knoll. There was terrible fighting, even hand to hand, and they were almost over run. Father Capodanno was wounded in the face and his hand was almost severed by a mortar round but he continued to giving last rites and take care of his Marines. He was killed trying to get to a wounded marine only 15 yards away from an enemy machine gun.
In January 1969, Lieutenant Vincent R. Capodanno, MM, became the second chaplain in United States history to receive our nation’s highest military honor. "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty …", he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In addition, he was also awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal. The government of Vietnam awarded him the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Silver Star and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with device.
These men served in hell armed with love of God and love of country. We should remember chaplains.
I want to add a word of thanks to a priest friend of mine, Fr. Tim Vakoc, with whom I was in seminary. He is now in the VA hospital in Minneapolis after suffering serious wounds in Iraq.