Chaplain Emil Kapaun, 1916-1951

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. A few details of his inspiring service.
  • 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 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.
  • On April 11, 2013, President Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Father Emil Kapaun
Today I remember Emil Kapaun, and 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.

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