||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (April 2013)|
Captain Chaplain Emil Joseph Kapaun
|Birth name||Emil Joseph Kapaun|
April 20, 1916|
|Died||May 23, 1951
Pyoktong, North Korea
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1944–1946
|Unit||3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry|
|Awards||Medal of Honor
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device
Combat Infantryman Badge
Emil Joseph Kapaun (April 20, 1916 – May 23, 1951) was a Roman Catholic priest and United States Army chaplain who died as a prisoner of war in the Korean War. For his wartime activities, the Roman Catholic Church has declared him a Servant of God, the first stage on the path to sainthood. On April 11, 2013, President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Captain Chaplain Kapaun for his actions on November 1-2, 1950 in Korea. He is the ninth American military chaplain Medal of Honor recipient.
Emil Joseph Kapaun was born on April 20, 1916, and grew up on a farm three miles southwest of Pilsen, Kansas. His parents were Enos and Elizabeth Kapaun, Czech immigrants.He graduated from Pilsen High School in May 1930. Kapaun graduated from Conception Abbey seminary college in Conception, Missouri, in June 1936. He attended Kenrick Theological Seminary (now Kenrick-Glennon Seminary), St. Louis, Missouri as well as Catholic University.
On June 9, 1940, Kapaun was ordained a priest at what is now Newman University in Wichita, Kansas. He celebrated his first Mass at St. John Nepomucene in Pilsen, Kansas. In 1943, Kapaun was appointed auxiliary chaplain at the Herington Army Airfield near Herington, Kansas. In December 1943, Kapaun was appointed pastor to replace Fr. Sklenar who had retired. He served in the Pilsen area under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita.
U.S. Army service
- World War II
Kapaun joined the United States Army in July 1941. He began his military chaplaincy at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, in October 1944. He and one other chaplain ministered to approximately 19,000 service men and women. He was sent to India and served in the Burma Theater from April 1945 to May 1946. He ministered to U.S. soldiers and local Missions covering a 2,000 mile territory by jeep. He was promoted to captain in January 1946
He was released from active duty in July 1946. Under the G.I. Bill, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Education at the The Catholic University of America in February 1948. In September 1948, he returned to active duty in the US Army and resumed his chaplaincy at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas. In December 1949, Kapaun left his parents and Pilsen for the last time, bound for Japan.
In January 1950, he was stationed near Mount Fuji, Japan. He became a chaplain in the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. On July 15, 1950, the 1st Cavalry Division and Kapaun embarked and left Tokyo Bay sailing for Korea, less than a month after North Korea had invaded South Korea.
- Korean War
The 1st Cavalry Division made the first amphibious landing in the Korean conflict on July 18, 1950. In late August, Kapaun was assigned to duty as Chaplain of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. He soon participated in the fighting on the Pusan perimeter in South Korea. From there, since mid September, Kapaun and the division was constantly on the move northward. On October 9, the division crossed the 38th parallel into North Korea and advanced within 50 miles of the Chinese border. His main complaint was lack of sleep for several weeks at a time. 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 a jeep. He constantly 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.
- Bronze Star Medal
HEADQUARTERS 1ST CAVALRY DIVISION 2 SEPTEMBER 1950
AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL -- By direction of the President under the provisions of Executive Order 9419, and pursuant to the authority contained in AR-600-45, the Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device for heroic achievement in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States is awarded the following named officer:
CHAPLAIN (CAPTAIN) EMIL J. KAPAUN 0558217, CHAPLAIN CORPS, UNITED STATES ARMY, a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Regiment, displayed heroism in action against the enemy near Kumchung, Korea on August 2, 1950. Chaplain KAPAUN received information that there was a wounded man in an exposed position on the left flank of the first battalion that could not be removed as there were no litter bearers available. Chaplain KAPAUN together with another officer, immediately proceeded to the front lines where he contacted the Battalion Commander in order to obtain the approximate location of the wounded man. With total disregard for personal safety, Chaplain KAPAUN and his companion went after the wounded man. The entire route to the wounded soldier was under intense enemy machinegun and small arms fire. However, Chaplain KAPAUN successfully evacuated the soldier, thereby saving the soldier. This heroic action on the part of Chaplain KAPAUN reflects great credit on himself and the military.
BY COMMAND OF MAJOR GENERAL GAY
He was captured and taken prisoner by Chinese soldiers during the Battle of Unsan near Unsan, North Korea, on November 2, 1950. He and other members of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment taken prisoner were marched 87 miles (140 km) to a prison camp near Pyoktong, North Korea. Kapaun was able to persuade some prisoners, who had ignored orders from officers, to carry the wounded. At the camp, he dug latrines, mediated disputes, gave away his own food, and raised morale among the prisoners. 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. He also led prisoners in acts of defiance and smuggled dysentery drugs to the doctor, Sidney Esensten.He was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct as a POW.
- Death and burial
Kapaun developed a blood clot in his leg, dysentery, and pneumonia. Weakened as the months passed, he managed to lead Easter sunrise service on Sunday, March 25, 1951. He was so weak that the prison guards took him to what they called a hospital where he received no help and was left to die of malnutrition and pneumonia on May 23, 1951. He was one of twelve chaplains to die in Korea. Four chaplains were taken prisoner in 1950, all died in captivity.
- Distinguished Service Cross
Awards and decorations
Kapaun's Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded by the US Army to the Medal of Honor. He received the Legion of Honor for his actions as a POW. He received the following military awards:
- Medal of Honor
- Legion of Merit
- Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device
- Purple Heart
- Prisoner of War Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star
- World War II Victory Medal
- Army of Occupation Medal with Japan Clasp
- National Defense Service Medal
- Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars
- Combat Infantryman Badge
- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
- United Nations Korea Medal
- Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Medal of honor
In 2001, U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt began a campaign to award the Medal of Honor to Kapaun. Before leaving office on September 16, 2009, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren sent Tiahrt a letter, agreeing that Kapaun was worthy of the honor. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also agreed.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Senate Bill 1867, Section 586) contains an authorization and a request to the President to award the Medal of Honor to Kapaun posthumously for acts of valor during the Battle of Unsan on November 1 and 2, 1950, and while a prisoner of war until his death on May 23, 1951. President Obama presented the medal awarded on behalf of Kapaun to Kapaun's nephew at the White House on April 11, 2013.
His Medal of Honor citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the MEDAL OF HONOR to
CHAPLAIN (CAPTAIN) EMIL. J, KAPAUN
UNITED STATES ARMY
for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:Chaplain Emil J. KAPAUN distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea, from November 1-2, 1950. On November 1, as Chinese Communist Forces viciously attacked friendly elements, Chaplain KAPAUN calmly walked through withering enemy fire in order to provide comfort and medical aid to his comrades and rescue friendly wounded from no-man's land. Though the Americans successfully repelled the assault, they found themselves surrounded by the enemy. Facing annihilation, the able-bodied men were ordered to to evacuate. However, Chaplain KAPAUN, fully aware of his certain capture, elected to stay behind with the wounded. After the enemy succeeded in breaking through the defense in the early morning hours of November 2, Chaplain KAPAUN continually made rounds, as hand-to-hand combat ensued. As Chinese Communist Forces approached the American position, Chaplain KAPAUN noticed an injured Chinese officer among the wounded and convinced him to negotiate the safe surrender of the American Forces. Shortly after his capture, Chaplain KAPAUN with complete disregard for his personal safety and unwavering resolve, bravely pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute Sergeant First Class Herbert A. Miller. Not only did Chaplain KAPAUN'S gallantry save the life of Sergeant Miller, but also his unparalleled courage and leadership inspired all those present, including those who might have otherwise fled in panic, to remain and fight the enemy until captured. Chaplain KAPAUN'S extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the United Stares Army.
The following is a general narrative from the many reports of Kapaun's ordeal as a prisoner of war given by many repatriated American soldiers after their release from prison camps. He was most remembered for his great humility, bravery, his constancy, his love and kindness and solicitude for his fellow prisoners. "He was their hero... their admired and beloved "padre." He kept up the G.I.'s morale, and most of all, allowed a lot of men to become good Catholics."
Reports received noted that Kapaun's feet had become badly frozen, but that he continued to administer to the sick and wounded. He continuously went out under heavy mortar and shelling to rescue wounded and dying soldiers at personal risk of being captured or killed.
Many accounts have been given of the many creature comforts he provided his comrades of the 8th Cavalry Regiment during imprisonment. They were both spiritual and physical. He provided endless hours of prayer and what nourishment he could find to all he could to keep them from starving to death.
A detailed account of Kapaun's life is recounted in Fr. Arthur Tonne's Chaplain Kapaun: Patriot Priest of the Korean Conflict:
In a very definite sense, we are all beneficiaries from the life of Fr. Kapaun. He has left us a stirring example of devotion to duty. He has passed on to us a spirit of tolerance and understanding. He has given us a share of dauntless bravery – of body and soul. He has transmitted to every one of us a new appreciation of America, and a keener, more realistic understanding of our country's greatest enemy – godlessness, now stalking the world in the form of communism. He has bequeathed a picture of Christ-like life. What Fr. Kapaun willed to us cannot be contained in memorials, however costly or beautiful. It is a treasure for the human soul – the spirit of one who loved and served God and man – even unto death.
When Kapaun was assigned to the Eighth Cavalry regiment – which was surrounded and overrun by the Chinese army in North Korea in October and November 1950 – he stayed behind with the wounded when the Army retreated. He allowed his own capture, then risked death by preventing Chinese executions of wounded Americans too injured to walk.
In 1993, Kapaun was named a Servant of God by the Roman Catholic Church, the first step toward possible canonization. Also, the Vatican is now examining whether a medical healing that took place in Sedgwick County, Kansas, can be considered a miracle.
Possible 2008 miracle
On June 26, 2009, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, the Roman Postulator for Kapaun's cause for canonization arrived in Wichita in order to interview doctors in relation to alleged miraculous events.
Among these is the claim of 20-year-old Chase Kear who survived a severe head injury last year in part, he and his family claim, because they petitioned Fr. Emil Kapaun to intercede for them. Kear, a member of the Hutchinson Community College track team, fell on his head during pole vaulting practice in October 2008, but, it is said, was miraculously healed despite being near death. The Rev. John Hotze, the judicial vicar for the Diocese of Wichita, and trained in Canon Law, will assist in investigating Kear's case.
Fr. Hotze has spent eight years investigating the proposed sainthood of Kapaun. The Catholic Church has considered canonizing Kapaun ever since soldiers were liberated from Korean prisoner-of-war camps in 1953 and told of Kapaun's heroism and faith. The Wichita diocese has continue to receive reports of miracles involving Fr. Kapaun. He is being considered for possible designation as a martyr.
Possible 2011 miracle
On May 7, 2011, Nick Dellasega collapsed at a Get Busy Living 5K race in Pittsburg, KS (honoring the memory of Dylan Meier). Due to a series of coincidences, Dellasega survived, even though he had seemingly died on the scene. His childhood friend, EMT Micah Ehling, is quoted by The Wichita Eagle as saying "I know what a face looks like when the soul leaves the body. And that's what Nick looked like". Some bystanders attribute Dellasega's survival to the devotion of his cousin, Jonah Dellasega, who fell to his knees at the scene and prayed to Kapaun. In a strange coincidence not reported by The Eagle, Dylan Meier, in whose memory the 5K was being held, was slated to teach English in Korea at the time of his death.
Skeptics[who?] point out that Kapaun's spirit could not possibly have orchestrated the bizarre coincidences that saved Nick's life because some of them were set in motion long before Nick collapsed (including a visit by Nick's uncle, Mark, a medical doctor from Greenville, N.C.). Divine Providence, however, can be said to have set in motion all the events before they happened, including the visit by the uncle, Mark, and the prayers to Fr Kapaun. And so it's easy for believers to insist Kapaun intervened to save Dellasega's life. The Eagle reported, "The coincidences are strange enough and the prayer notable enough that a Catholic church investigator has reported Nick's story to the Vatican, which happens to have a representative in Wichita again, sizing up Father Emil Kapaun for sainthood."
- Kapaun Memorial Chapel, Seoul, South Korea; dedicated November 4, 1953.
- Kapaun Chapel, Camp McGovern, Bosnia; dedicated 1998.
- Kapaun Religious Retreat House, Ōiso, Japan; dedicated December 1954.
- Kapaun Barracks and Chapel, United States Military Base, Kaiserslautern, Germany; dedicated June 7, 1955.
- Father Kapaun Memorial Technical School, Kwanju, Korea; dedicated Summer 1955.
- Chaplain Kapaun Memorial High School, Wichita, Kansas; dedicated May 12, 1957. Later to become Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School, 1971.
- Honolulu Memorial; dedicated 1964
- Bronze Door Panel, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wichita, Kansas; dedicated February 1997.
- Knights of Columbus Council 11987
- Chaplain Kapaun Korean War Memorial Site, Pilsen, Kansas; dedicated June 3, 2001.
- Chaplain Kapaun Complex, Fort Riley, Kansas; dedicated 2001, 2002.
- Emil Kapaun Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Assembly, Katy, Texas.
- Knights of Columbus Council 3744
- Four Chaplains
- List of Korean War Medal of Honor recipients
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA
- American Catholic Servants of God, Venerables, Beatified, and Saints
- Charles J. Watters – Vietnam War chaplain Medal of Honor awardee
- Latham Jr., LTC William C. (2012). "Father Emil Kapaun". Army (Association of the United States Army) 62 (11): 38–43. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
- Roy Wenzl (29 July 2011). "Father Emil Kapaun: Through Death March, Father Kapaun perseveres and inspires". Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- Nasaw, Daniel (April 16, 2012). "Recognition finally for a warrior priest's heroics". BBC News.
- Besides Chaplain Kapaun, there was a CIB awarded to Chaplain Holland Hope and other Chaplains in Korea, and a CIB awarded to Chaplain Claude D Newby (his book about Vietnam, 3/4/2003, states in got a CIB), Vietnam.  The Witchita Eagle, April 11, 2013, "The Medal of Honor for Emil J Kapaun", More Information. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2013.
- Wenzl, Roy (December 6, 2009). "The Miracle of Father Kapaun". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 2010-01-24.
- Wenzl, Roy (December 13, 2009). "Part 8: The Miracle of Father Kapaun. Father Emil Kapaun: Former POWs say his miracle was providing them hope". The Wichita Eagle (Kansas.com).
- "Father emil joseph kapaun". Knights of Columbus. Archived from the original on September 26, 2010.
-  CBI Saint, Father Emil J. Kapaun
-  CBI Saint, Father Emil J. Kapaun
-  1st Cavalry Division Historical Overview
-  The Story of Chaplain Kapaun by Arthur Tonne, Chapter Sixteen, Military Awards. Retrieved Jan. 26, 2014.
- Wenzl, Roy (December 6, 2009). "Part 1: The Miracle of Father Kapaun. Father Emil Kapaun: In Korea, Kapaun saves dozens during Chinese attack". The Wichita Eagle (Kansas.com).
- Wenzl, Roy (December 7, 2009). "Part 2: The Miracle of Father Kapaun. Father Emil Kapaun: Through Death March, Father Kapaun perseveres and inspires". The Wichita Eagle (Kansas.com).
- Wenzl, Roy (December 8, 2009). "Part 3: The Miracle of Father Kapaun. Father Emil Kapaun: In icy POW camps, Kapaun shares faith, provisions". The Wichita Eagle (Kansas.com).
- Wenzl, Roy (December 9, 2009). "Part 4: The Miracle of Father Kapaun. Father Emil Kapaun: As hundreds die, Kapaun rallies the POWs". The Wichita Eagle (Kansas.com).
- Wenzl, Roy (December 10, 2009). "Part 5: The Miracle of Father Kapaun. Father Emil Kapaun: Leads camp prisoners in quiet acts of defiance". The Wichita Eagle (Kansas.com).
- Wenzl, Roy (December 11, 2009). "Part 6: The Miracle of Father Kapaun. Father Emil Kapaun forgives guards, welcomes death". The Wichita Eagle (Kansas.com).
- "Under Fire: Army Chaplains in Korea, 1950", by Mark Johnson, Branch Historian, US Army Chaplain Corps. Retrieved Feb. 1, 2014
-  The Story of Chaplain Kapaun by Arthur Tonne, Chapter Sixteen, Military Awards. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2014
- "Crossroads: The Good Thief". Classic Television. Internet Archive. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
-  1st Cavalry Division (), Korean War Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, "One additional award of the DSC was rescinded when the recipient was awarded the Medal of Honor on 11 April 2013, Chaplain (Captain) Emil J Kapaun." Retrieved Jan. 26, 2014.
- "Biography for Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun". News Archive. United States Army. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013. Gives only a partial list of his awards.
-  US Congressman Mike Pompeo (KS) Site, Emil J Kapaun receives Medal of Honor, Other Awards:.... Purple Heart, CIB,... Retrieved Jan. 22, 2014
- "Emil Joseph Kapaun". Military Times Hall of Valor. Gannett Government Media Corporation. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- FM 7-21.13 The Soldier's Guide: The Complete Guide to U.s. Army Traditions, Training, Duties, and Responsibilities. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. 2007. pp. 2–46. ISBN 9781602391642. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
Jennifer H. Svan (15 October 2009). "Beloved chaplain recommended for Medal of Honor". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
-  US Congressman Mike Pompeo (KS) Site. Fr. Emil Kapaun Receives Medal of Honor. Other Awards... CIB. He is one of the known Chaplains to receive the CIB (for example Holland Hope, Korea and Claude Newby, Vietnam). Retrieved Jan 22, 2014
-  The Witchita Eagle, April 11, 2003, "More information, Kaupaun's military record" (awards list... CIB). Retrieved Jan. 22, 2010
-  1st Cavalry Division Association (), 1st Cavalry Division, Lineage and Honors, Decorations, ROK Presidential Unit Citation, DA GO 35, 1951 (16 August-26 September, 1950 ). Retrieved Jan.26, 1950
- Roy Wenzl (2 October 2009). "Army: Kapaun worthy of Medal of Honor". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
John Milburn (13 October 2009). "Army says Kansas Army chaplain Rev. Kapaun worthy of Medal of Honor for service in Korean War". Star Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- "SEC. 586. AUTHORIZATION AND REQUEST FOR AWARD OF MEDAL OF HONOR TO EMIL KAPAUN FOR ACTS OF VALOR DURING THE KOREAN WAR.". National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012 (Senate Bill 1867). Library of Congress. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
-  The White House Blog, President Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Father Emil Kapaun. Retrieved Feb. 1, 2014
- Meghann Myers (11 April 2013). "‘Quiet hero' Kapaun receives posthumous Medal of Honor". Army Times. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
Barbara Goldberg; Ellen Wulfhorst; G Crosse (12 April 2013). "Medal of Honor for Korean War chaplain who aided fellow POWs". Reuters. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "Medal of Honor Recipient Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun". United States Army. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
- Wenzl, Roy (30 June 2009). "Vatican finds evidence of miracle in Kansas case". The Wichita Eagle. Archived from the original on 3 July 2009. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- "Father Kapaun". Frkapaun.org. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- "Vatican sends investigator for Kapaun sainthood". TheKansan.com. Associated Press. June 22, 2009. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011.
- Wenzl, Roy (December 12, 2009). "Part 7: The Miracle of Father Kapaun. Father Emil Kapaun: POWs call him 'a hero and a saint'". The Wichita Eagle (Kansas.com).
- Wenzl, Roy. "Kansas man's recovery credited to Kapaun". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- "Dylan Meier dies in hiking accident". Pittsburg, KS Morning Sun. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
- "Kaiserslautern Military Community hosts memorial to Father Emil Kapaun to be awarded Medal of Honor | Article | The United States Army". Army.mil. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
- Duane A. Vachon, PhD (3 March 2012). "Saint Dismas, The Good Thief – Father Emil Kapaun". Hawaii Reporter. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- "Knights of Columbus Fr Emil J. Kapaun Council in Germany, 11987". Catholic-church.org. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
- "Knights of Columbus :: Holy Family Catholic Community (Ramstein, Germany)". Kmccatholiccommunity.org. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
- "Military Councils | Knights of Columbus". Kofc.org. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
- "Find Council". Californiaknights.org. 2013-05-27. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
- The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero; Wenzl and Heying; Ignatius Press; 200 pages; 2013; ISBN 978-1586177799.
- A Saint Among Us: Remembering Father Emil J. Kapaun; Father Kapaun Guild; 168 pages; 2005; ISBN 978-0976846604.
- A Shepherd in Combat Boots: Chaplain Emil Kapaun of the 1st Cavalry Division; William Maher; Burd Street Press; 199 pages; 1997; ISBN 978-1572493056.
- The story of Chaplain Kapaun: Patriot priest of the Korean conflict; Arthur Tonne; Didde Publishers; 255 pages; 1954; ISBN 978-0974068107.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Emil Kapaun.|
- Father Kapaun Guild, Catholic Diocese of Wichita
- The Story of Chaplain Kapaun, 1954 biography, a book by Arthur Tonne
- Father Emil Kapaun's life, deeds compiled; The Wichita Eagle.
- "Valor Awards for Emil Joseph Kapaun". Military Times Hall of Valor. Gannett Government Media Corporation.
- Crossroads episode "The Good Thief", viewable in its entirety at archive.org
- Sunflower Journeys: Father Kapaun, video