Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun to be awarded Medal of Honor

| March 11, 2013


Long overdue, in my opinion, Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division will be awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House on April 11th, says the Army;

As Chinese Communist forces encircled the battalion, Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under direct enemy fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. He repeatedly crawled to wounded men and either dragged them back to the safety of the American lines, or dug shallow trenches to shield them from enemy fire. As Chinese forces closed in, Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded.

After he was captured, Kapaun and other prisoners marched for several days northward toward prisoner-of-war camps. During the march Kapaun led by example in caring for injured Soldiers, refusing to take a break from carrying the stretchers of the wounded while encouraging others to do their part.

Once inside the dismal prison camps, Kapaun risked his life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick, and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and their humanity. On at least one occasion, he was brutally punished for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any garments.

His dying breath was reportedly spent asking God to forgive his captors.

Category: Real Soldiers

Comments (31)

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  1. Arby says:

    I wonder what LTC Trainer will say Chaplain Kapaun when they meet in Heaven one day: “Hey, do you want to hear how I got my BSM?”

  2. Old Tanker says:

    Why that’s my old unit! Bravo Zulu Chaplain.

  3. NHSparky says:

    No greater love.

  4. B Woodman says:

    Dust in my eyes. . . .

  5. K.J. Hinton says:

    What an amazing man.

  6. A_Proud_Infidel says:


  7. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    A couple of years ago, I came upon a book in the tiny library of my parish. The book told the story of a handful of chaplains, published sometime around 1960, as I recall. The story of Father Kapaun was among them. I was absolutely mesmerized and astounded by the accounts of his courage and faith. I was also ashamed that I had not heard of him before. Happily, he has never been forgotten by those with whom he served, their families, and many of the faithful. He is loved to this day, so many years after his untimely death. Saint Emil Kapaun. Has a nice ring to it, eh? Imagine that. A saint with the MOH.

  8. WebsterICT says:

    Father Kapaun was ordained at what is now Newman University, Wichita KS. He also served during WW II. Links to sites:

  9. LCDR M(Ret) says:

    He must have been an incredible morale booster for his fellow POWs in that hell hole.


  10. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @9. I am so very sorry. I posted cmt 9 in the wrong place. My apology.

  11. Ex-PH2 says:

    Dusty in here.

  12. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Betcha money the Padre would say he doesn’t deserve it. A man of that caliber and character would say “I was only doing my job”! A man of God. Semper Fi Padre.

  13. A_Proud_Infidel says:

    @11, Yeah, it sure is.

  14. Twist says:

    Must be a dust storm in the lower 48 since I seem to have gotten some in my eye also.

  15. PintoNag says:

    @9 Possible wrong thread, Air Cav. I think you meant for that to go under the David Wood thread?

    On topic: A tremendous man. May he RIP.

  16. Medic09 says:

    Strength belongs to the body; but Courage comes from deep inside a man. This Chaplain displayed great courage. A model for anyone. RIP

  17. Old Trooper says:

    “When Kapaun began to suffer from the physical toll of his captivity, the Chinese transferred him to a filthy, unheated hospital where he died alone.”

    No, he didn’t die alone.

  18. When I was stationed in Germany in 1968 and 1969, the headquarters of the 32d Army Air Defense Command was KAPAUN BARRACKS in Kaiserslautern.

    My unit was Company “A”, 11th Air Defense Signal Battalion, 32d Army Air defense Command (i.e., “32d AADCOM”).

    The 32d AADCOM has changed its name, and is now at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    I wonder if Kapaun Barracks still exists in Kaiserslautern, Germany?

  19. SteveS says:

    Wow, what a brave and spiritual man. Chaplain Kapaun, a shining example, for us all, of doing God’s work under the harshest of conditions. No greater love, indeed.
    Rest in Peace, Chaplain.

  20. Scalpel Shepherd says:

    Nurture the living
    Care for the wounded
    Honor the fallen

  21. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    I would very much appreciate it if my stupid mistake in comment 10 could be deleted. I am very sorry that I marred this thread with a comment meant for another thread.

  22. I just did an Internet search for “KAPAUN BARRACKS, KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY”, and – – – ,

    It’s still there, except now, it’s an AIR FORCE installation!

    No more United States Army.

    Are any of you folks currently stationed in Kaiserslautern?

    I’m just a wee bit curious about Kapaun Air Station (as it’s presently called).

    Are there any other military installations named in honor of Chaplain Kapaun?

    When I was there, Kapaun Barracks, a United States Army installation, was headquarters of the 32d Army Air Defense Command, and therefore, by default, the headquarters for everything else in Kaiserslautern.

    My own unit, Company “A”, 11th Air Defense Signal Battalion, was at Kleber Kaserne in Kaiserslautern.

    Units of the 32d AADCOM were spread all over Germany.

    The majority of my time was on a repair team at Spangdahlem Air Force Base.

  23. Enigma4you says:

    Ya know when I was still on Facebook I would do a “my hero of the day is” post every now and again. Anthony Dodson, one of the son toy raiders was one of my heroes. So was Rudy Hernandez, he won the MOH in Korea. Just to name a couple.

    I am no longer on Facebook so I will say it here, my hero today is Emil Kapaun

    It’s allergy season in Nc…

  24. MAJ O says:

    Bastards, the wind is cold and stings my eyes…..

  25. Mike says:

    A good chaplain is a force multiplier by far. RIP Chaplain.

  26. LIRight says:

    #10 and #23: 2/17 Air Cav

    You post many, many excellent comments on this site, so for what’s it’s worth and IMHO don’t worry about it!

    As my late father used to say and I’m sure Fr. Kapaun said a time or two, “there’s only one man who never made a mistake and he was hung on a cross many years ago.”

  27. Old Tanker says:

    You may note that some of the comments are not in the same place they once were. I honored Air Cav’s request to remove the comment he accidently put here that he obviously meant for another thread.

    Air Cav, it’s all good, most of us have slipped a comment in the wrong thread before….First Team!!

  28. ChopIT says:

    God blessed you Fr. Kapaun. Thank you for your service and your inspirational actions and words. The men you saved will never forget you and now neither will we.

  29. Mike Goff says:

    Robert, YES Kapaun is still here in Kaiserslautern. When the US Air Force and US Army swapped Vogelweh/Kapaun/Pulaski (US Army) for Wiesbaden (US Air Force), called CREED SWAP, the Air Force did not take away the Kapaun name and call everything Vogelweh. Kapaun now houses Defense Commissary Agency European HQs, USAREUR Vehicle Registration (run by the AF cops) for the Kaiserslautern community, 2 AF Professional Military Education facilities, dorms for AF troops, a USAF SPACECOM facility, and a couple other things I have no idea what.