Father (Capt.) Emil Kapaun
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Emil Joseph Kapaun (O-0558217), Captain (Chaplain), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Chaplain with Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment (Infantry), 1st Cavalry Division. Captain (Chaplain) Kapaun distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Unsan, Korea, on 1 and 2 November 1950.
On the afternoon of 1 November 1950, and continuing through the following 36 hours, the regiment was subjected to a relentless, fanatical attack by hostile troops attempting to break through the perimeter defense. In the early morning hours, the enemy succeeded in breaking through the defenses, and hand-to-hand combat ensued in the immediate vicinity of the command post where the aid station had been set up. Chaplain Kapaun, with complete disregard for his personal safety, calmly moved among the wounded men, giving them medical aid and easing their fears. His courageous manner inspired all those present and many men who might otherwise have fled in panic were encouraged by his presence and remained to fight the enemy.
As the battle progressed, the number of wounded increased greatly and it became apparent that many of the men would not be able to escape the enemy encirclement. Finally, at dusk on November 2, 1950, the remaining able- bodied men were ordered to attempt to break through the surrounding enemy. At this time, although fully aware of the great danger, Chaplain Kapaun voluntarily remained behind, and when last seen was administering medical treatment and rendering religious rites wherever needed.
Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea: General Orders No. 625 (August 18, 1951)
Born: 4/20/1916 at Pilsen, Kansas
Home Town: Marion, Kansas
Communist forces in the fall of 1950 had overrun the 1st Cavalry Division in northern Korea near the Chinese border, and American commanders ordered their forces to retreat. Kapaun, a Catholic priest with the 3rd Battalion, refused and stayed to care for the men who couldn’t flee. [snip]
While in captivity, Kapaun risked his life to steal food from the surrounding fields and sneaked away to a nearby river to clean cotton bandages for the wounded held in a dirty and unsanitary prison camp.
Many veterans who have survived the camp credit Kapaun for helping them get through the ordeal. He is remembered for defying camp rules forbidding religious services. On Easter Sunday in 1951, he held Mass using broken wood to make a cross and barbed wire to form a rosary.
On May 25, Kapaun died while in captivity. The military posthumously awarded Kapaun the Distinguished Service Cross, but Korean veterans have requested that he receive the Medal of Honor. In 1993, the Vatican named him a “Servant of God”. Some Catholic war veterans are campaigning for Kapaun to become a saint.
Table of contents for Military Chaplains
- Jesus Walks the Battlefield
- Father Martin C. Hoehn
- Church: Chaplains are heroes, too.
- Chaplain Gave All-Chaplain (Major) Henry T. Vakoc
- Father Vincent Capodanno
- Father Elmer Heindl
- Father Heindl Saved America
- Father Leo – Saving Souls in Iraq
- Father (Capt.) Emil Kapaun
- Priest Called to Serve – in the Army
- Former Stunt Man Makes Leap to Airborne Ministry
- Female Chaplains Serve God and Country
- West Point Priest in Iraq
- Father Tim Never Surrendered
- Guard Member Earns Chaplain of Year Award
- Aiding God and Country: Chaplain Assistants
- To one Marine chaplain, karma is everything
- New Zealand chaplain making a difference to Afghan orphans
- St. Elijah’s Monastery in Iraq
- Captain Dale A Goetz KIA
- Mass celebrated in a far away land
- Serving God and the troops in Kyrgyzstan
- A breeze and a Bible changed her life
- Our Best: Spc. Heather Lane
- Military service a testimony of faith
- Father Emil Kapaun to be awarded Medal of Honor
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