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Father Kapaun: An Army Chaplain's Extraordinary Bravery Under Fire

It was November 1950 and Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun expected the war would soon be over. What he didn't know was Chinese forces were planning a surprise attack: some 20,000 Chinese fighting just a few thousand Americans.

As bullets flew, Chaplain Kapaun, or "Father" as his men called him, rushed from wounded to wounded soldier offering comfort and medical support. His commander ordered an evacuation, but Father Kapaun stayed behind. As fighting continued, he found a wounded Chinese soldier and convinced him to help negotiate a peaceful surrender for his men.

As the Chinese rounded up American soldiers to move them to a prisoner camp, Father Kapaun noticed a wounded American lying in a ditch. As a Chinese soldier raised his gun to shoot the man Father Kapaun knocked the soldier down, picked up the wounded American, and carried him four miles to the prisoner camp.

The man Father Kapaun saved is named Herb Miller. He's one of the people who had the privilege of watching President Obama award the Medal of Honor to Roman Catholic Chaplain Kapaun posthumously at the White House this week.

After being taken as a prisoner of war, Father Kapaun continued to take care of his men physically and spiritually. He gave them his food, made pots to boil water, and washed his men's clothing when dysentery set in.

He held prayer services, even an Easter service during which he donned the purple stole President Obama is holding in the picture below. The photo was taken shortly before the president awarded the medal to Father Kapaun.

Father Kapaun Medal of Honor

Watch as President Obama honors Chaplain Emil Kapaun.

The Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal process that could lead to Father Kapaun's canonization.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Friday, April 12, 2013 11:17 AM

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