Father Elmer Heindl
For every child molesting priest there have been a hundred men like this:
He received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest combat medal, for his “extraordinary heroism in action” under heavy machine-gun fire during street fighting in Manila, Philippines, in 1945.
According to newspaper articles that year, Father Heindl entered a Bilibid Prison watchtower under fire to offer prayers for a dying soldier, then carried the body out. He returned to the tower and carried a wounded man through Japanese fire to safety. Two days later, he crawled through enemy rocket and mortar fire to drag a wounded officer to an aid station. He carried other casualties to safety and administered last rites to the dying, the newspaper reported.
Company E had an observation post in a small tower in the middle of the prison. The soldier at his post spotted Japanese movements and using a sound power phone, called down locations to a mortar crew who kept a barrage of 60 millimeter mortar shells dropping on unwary enemy in any group larger than one. At 10 P. M., the observer in the tower was located by the Japanese, and they directed devastating machine gun fire at the tower. The observer was badly hit, and he called out on his phone that they had â€˜â€˜ gotâ€™â€™ him. Private First Class Elmer Russell, an aid man, and impish- looking Chaplain Elmer Heindl, didnâ€™t wait to volunteer but just started up the wooden stairs to the tower.
Another long burst of machine gun fire ripped the tower and the wounded man was hit again. He had only a few minutes to live. Russell and Heindl ran into the tower and began aiding the dying soldier, Russell binding his wounds and the chaplain giving him last rites. Russell lit his flashlight for an instant to determine where the man was hit most severely, and when the light was flashed on, the Japanese again opened up but miraculously missed the three men. When the observer died, the Chaplain and the aid man carried his body down the steps to the prison yard. For this heroism, both men received the Distinguished Service Cross, Russellâ€™s arriving posthumously since he was killed a week later while engaged in a similar mission.
The moment he made the turn he was confronted by the two â€˜â€˜ banzaiâ€™â€™ Japanese tanks with turret guns blazing, and men shooting rifles in our direction. White was hit in the upper thigh by a blast, knocked off the side of the road, landing about ten yards below in a small grassy expanse only a few feet wide. The Captain had his head blown off. I dropped my carbine and instinctively jumped down off the road toward what could have been a 2 mile drop. But, fortunately, I landed on this same God- given expanse which had saved first White and now me from a death leap. White was in semi- shock and his thigh was gushing blood. I was in complete shock and only came out of it when he groaned â€˜â€˜ Tourniquet. â€™â€™ Miraculously, and I do not use that word lightly, along with us was the Regimental Catholic Chaplain, Elmer Heindl, one of the most saintly men I have ever met. While I lay there paralyzed with fear and ignorance, he proceeded to bind up the colonelâ€™s leg, probably saving his life.
Father Heindl spent his last days in the burn ward at Strong after an accident at home. He did not deserve his pain and I hope his sacrifices bring us all closer to our God.
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
This entry was posted on Monday, July 17th, 2006 at 1:54 pm and is filed under Original writing, Commentary, Military, Heroes, Military, Original writing, Military, World War II. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.