'100 Faces of War Experience' to feature Father Tim Vakoc in library exhibit

This portrait of Father Tim Vakoc, a wounded Army chaplain anda veteran of service in Iraq, will be on display at an exhibit Aug. 17 to 31 at the St. Paul Central Library, 90 W. Fourth St.

'100 Faces of War Experience' to feature Father Tim Vakoc in library exhibit

A national exhibit, "100 Faces of War Experience," will be on display at the St. Paul Central Library Aug. 17 to 31 and will feature two Minnesota war veterans, Father Tim Vakoc, an Army major and chaplain, and Marine Staff Sgt. Koufan Hersons.

Vakoc, recovering from injuries suffered three years ago in Iraq, received the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award last April from the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas. The award recognizes alumni “who have lived their vocation in an extraordinary way.”

After his ordination in 1992 as a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, he served as an associate pastor at St. John Neumann in Eagan until 1996, when he became an Army chaplain.

Vakoc was injured May 29, 2004, when the armored Humvee he was driving was hit by a roadside bomb. He was returning to his barracks after saying Mass for U.S. troops near Mosul; it was the 12th anniversary of his ordination. He is the first documented U.S. Army chaplain seriously injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Vakoc is scheduled to attend the "100 Faces of War Experience" opening reception (health permitting) from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at the library, 90 W. Fourth St.

Hersons served as an aviation mechanic and provided air support in the first siege of Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.

The exhibit will be open to the public; hours are 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

'100 Faces of War Experience'
"100 Faces of War Experience" is a national project using portraits and words to build connections between Americans who have returned from war and the American public. Twenty-two portraits will be on display in the library, each portrait accompanied by words written by the person pictured.

The text accompanying Vakoc's portrait reads: "Ministry of intentional presence. 'I live with (the soldiers), work with them, eat with them, care for them, listen to them, counsel them. The soldiers know if you are real and genuinely care or not. The soldiers see me out there with them, and that makes a difference.' "

The exhibit, a project of Massachusetts artist Matthew Mitchell, is a work in progress, which will eventually include 100 portraits and statements from Americans of all backgrounds who have experience in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Civilians, military personnel and at least one person from each state will be included.