In NOV. 4, 2012 I did a blog on SERVANT of GOD FATHER EMIL KAPAUN. Recently he was given recognition for the care of his men by our government. In paying tribute to Father Emil Kapaun President Barack Obama told multiple stories of the “shepherd in combat boots” from Kansas who voluntarily stayed behind with the wounded to face certain capture, rather than evacuate when his division was overrun at Unsan, Korea, in November 1950.
“This is the valor we honor today – an American soldier who didn’t fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all, a love for his brothers so pure that he was willing to die so that they might live,” the president said.
A Catholic Korean War chaplain who selflessly pulled wounded men from enemy fire and helped his fellow prisoners of war keep a sense of hope was honored posthumously with the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military honor, in a White House ceremony.
Some of Father Kapaun’s fellow prisoners, who walked out of their prison camp carrying a crucifix they’d fashioned to honor their deceased chaplain, were in attendance at the ceremony. The medal, given to members of the armed forces for distinguished gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in active service, was presented to Ray Kapaun, a nephew of the priest, who never knew his uncle.
“He carried that injured American, for miles, as their captors forced them on a death march,” said Obama. “When Fr Kapaun grew tired, he’d help the wounded soldier hop on one leg. When other prisoners stumbled, he picked them up. When they wanted to quit, knowing that stragglers would be shot, he begged them to keep walking.”
Father Kapaun’s actions that day are what was being recognized with the Medal of Honor, Obama said, but he continued with stories of the priest’s selfless actions in the prison camp – helping smuggle in more food; giving away his clothes to freezing men; fashioning pots to boil water to battle dysentery; praying with the men in their huts; celebrating Easter Mass.
Father Kapaun received the Bronze Star before his capture and the Distinguished Service Cross after he died. Within the Catholic Church he has been recognized by the Vatican as a “Servant of God”, a first step in the investigation of someone who is being considered for sainthood.