Chaplain Emil Kapaun

Today Chaplain Emil Kapaun was posthumously honored with the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award.
Below is a post that I shared about him on Memorial Day in 2011.

Some of the many unsung heroes of our military are the chaplains who serve and sacrifice for our nation. Today, on this day of remembrance, I thought that I would share a bit about one such man. The image at the right depicts a statue, located in Pilsen, Kansas, of Emil Kapaun helping a wounded comrade. Kapaun was a chaplain in the US Army during the Korean War. Here are a few details of his inspiring service from the wiki on him:
  • In January 1950 he was stationed near Mt. Fuji, Japan as a military chaplain until alerted into combat in July 1950. 
  • In the same month, Chaplain Kapaun's unit, the 35th Brigade from Ft. Bliss, TX landed in South Korea during a big invasion.
  • He constantly ministered to the dead and dying while performing baptisms, hearing first Confessions, offering Holy Communion and celebrating Mass from an improvised altar set up on the front end of an army jeep.  
  • He regularly would lose his Mass Kit, jeep and trailer to enemy fire. He told how he was thoroughly convinced that the prayers of many others were what had saved him so many times up until his capture.
  • He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in September 1950.
  • When his unit was overrun by the enemy he stayed behind with the wounded. He allowed his own capture, then risked death by preventing Chinese executions of wounded Americans too injured to walk.
  • In November 1950, he was captured near Unsan, North Korea.
  • In the prison camp his main complaint was lack of sleep for several weeks at a time.
  • He was noted among his fellow POWs as one who would steal coffee and tea (and a pot to heat them in) from the Communist guards.
  • On May 23, 1951, he died in a prison camp in Pyoktong, North Korea. He was buried in a mass grave near the Yalu River. 
  • On August 18, 1951, Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at Unsan.
If you are interested you can find more about Kapaun with an internet search. Today I honor and remember chaplains like him who do an amazing job ministering to our valiant soldiers. I applaud the quiet and humble way that they serve those who have given all for peace.


  1. Thank God for chaplains. I came very close to applying to the chaplaincy while in the USMC. I wonder what Chaplain Kapaun would think about the edict that came down from the top to Navy Chaplains on April 13. I have a post in que for 6-1-11 about the new deal chaplains have to face. Great post!

  2. The Catholic church is considering him for sainthood.

  3. I applaud him too and those like him that sacrifice themselves for others.


I love to get comments and usually respond. So come back to see my reply. You can click here to see my comment policy.