A Catholic priest who was critically injured while deployed with his Fort Lewis unit died Saturday, more than five years after his Humvee struck a roadside bomb in Iraq.
The Rev. Tim Vakoc becomes the first chaplain to die of wounds sustained during the war in Iraq. The former major from Minnesota – known to most as Father Tim – suffered brain damage and lost an eye from the May 30, 2004, attack. He had most recently lived at a nursing home in New Hope, Minn.
“He was a great man of God,” said Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek, who served with Vakoc on the fateful deployment to northern Iraq. “He was universally known and universally loved by the soldiers.”
According to an online journal that tracked Vakoc’s recovery, the 49-year-old died Saturday night while surrounded by friends and family. No further detail on the cause of the priest’s death was given, and family members couldn’t be reached Monday.