Run celebrates chaplain's bravery in Korean War
April 25, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (April 25, 2013) -- Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama April 11.
Kapaun died a prisoner of war 62 years ago in North Korea. A Catholic priest, who had already served in WWII, he repeatedly risked his life to care for wounded and dying Soldiers fighting the communist Chinese.
When U.S. forces, who were heavily outnumbered, pulled back, Kapaun elected to remain with the wounded. He rallied other prisoners' hopes and fighting spirit. He encouraged them to resist the enemy's re-indoctrination efforts and stole food and supplies from the enemy to aid his fellow Soldiers.
In one instance, he pushed aside the muzzle of an enemy's weapon that was pressed against the head of a wounded Soldier, picked up that Soldier and aided him in the several mile march to the POW camp. Forced to remain outdoors without clothing in sub-zero weather, he became ill. Eventually he died alone in a filthy room with neither light nor heat. Shortly before, as he was carried away, his fellow Soldiers overheard him praying for God to forgive their enemies.
To mark this occasion and honor this religious and military leader, the 30th Air Defense Artillery unit ministry team led a spiritual fitness run, supported by brigade and battalion command teams. A two-mile run from the 3-6th ADA Patriot general instruction facility concluded at Artillery Bowl.
Col. Michael Simley and Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Hockenberry ran along side 3-6th ADA and 2-6th ADA, led by commanders Lt. Cols. Shawn Lott and Matthew Rauscher, respectively. Of the several hundred participants, the majority were Advanced Individual Training students, their cadre and leaders.
Once participants formed inside Artillery Bowl, the 15-minute program highlighted Kapaun's actions and character as exemplary.
Deputy Brigade Chaplain (Capt.) Jerrod Glenn, read excerpts from the citation used at the White House ceremony later that day. He then explained that just as Kapaun was a "salt-of-the-earth kind of guy," all Soldiers are expected to live their lives informed by their highest values.
Simley, challenged participants to see how Kapaun's life exemplified the Soldier's Creed.
Chaplain (Maj.) James O'Neal, Installation Catholic priest, pronounced a blessing upon participants.
The diverse religious backgrounds of the chaplains present helped further illustrate the value of mutual respect: another of Kapaun's exemplary character traits.
Pfc. Valerie Tajeda, B Battery, 2-6th ADA, said Kapaun's story and character were very inspirational.
"You don't often think of chaplains as heroes in combat, so to learn this story was motivating for me," said Sgt. 1st Class Ernest Lamberth.
Capt. Natalie Cahill, Headquarters, A Battery, 2-6th ADA commander, described the spiritual fitness run as "creative, interactive and fun" ... while simultaneously honoring Kapaun. "These events have a lasting effect on our Soldiers and cadre."