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Chaplain Colonel (Ret.) Herman Keizer Jr. (1938-2017)


Herm Keizer, a courteous and courageous man of deep faith and integrity, has been described as the most well-known and decorated military chaplain in the history of the Christian Reformed denomination. Keizer died suddenly on Dec. 22 as the result of a massive brain bleed. He was 79.

From a young age, Keizer felt the call to ministry. A graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, he was ordained in 1968 and commissioned as a Chaplain in the U.S Army where he served for 34 years, including 15 years in the Pentagon and two years at the State Department. His war experiences included being injured during a rocket attack on a base in Cambodia and in a 159-foot fall from a helicopter in Vietnam.

Although he retired from the military after reaching mandatory retirement age, Keizer was immediately recalled and continued to serve until officially retiring in 2002. He then became the director of CRC Chaplaincy Ministries until he retired again in 2009. Admitting that he had “failed at retirement,” Keizer continued to serve on many projects—more recently those related to moral injury in war and soul repair. He was National Chaplain for the Military Order of the Purple Heart composed of those, like himself, who received the medal for wounds suffered in combat.

A recipient of distinguished alumni awards from both Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, Keizer also received a distinguished service award from the American Association of Professional Chaplains. He enjoyed cooking, gardening, reading, and singing. Many will remember his emotional and inspirational storytelling about his experiences in combat ministry.

Among those left to mourn Keizer’s death are Ardis, his wife of 53 years, and their sons, Bryan and Randall. Interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at 9 a.m. on May 23, 2018.

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