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The Catholic Spirit - MN Priest recieves Purple Heart ..ARMY..IRAQ

Thursday, July 22, 2004
The Catholic Spirit - Default Page Articles: "Father Timothy Vakoc
responds to receiving
Purple Heart in hospital
By Julie Carroll
The Catholic Spirit
Father Timothy Vakoc, a Minnesota native, received a Purple Heart July 14 in his Washington hospital room, where he is recovering from injuries caused by an explosion in Iraq.
Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., presented Father Vakoc with the military medal, given to soldiers wounded in action, during a ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The Army chaplain, who has been in and out of a coma for about a month, awoke for a short time during the presentation to take Coleman�s hand.
�It was a very moving ceremony,� Coleman said. �It really meant a lot to his family and to me when he opened his eyes and smiled in response to those around him, to our prayers and to the medal he had just been awarded.�
Coleman said he was able to expedite the presentation of the Purple Heart because of the seriousness of Father Vakoc�s head injuries and his unstable condition.
Father Vakoc, 44, suffered brain damage, broken facial bones and the loss of his left eye when a bomb exploded near his Humvee in Mosul, Iraq, May 29.
Doctors have not yet determined the extent of his brain damage, but family members report he has become more responsive, looking at people when they speak to him and pressing the nurse�s call button. He left the intensive care unit July 11, but remains on a ventilator.
�We�ll continue to keep Father Vakoc and his family in our thoughts and prayers,� said Coleman. �More than anything, we�d like to see him make a full and immediate recovery.�
Father Vakoc, ordained in 1992 as a priest of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, served at St. John Neumann in Eagan and St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony before joining the Ar"
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