In commemoration of National Medal of Honor Day on March 25th, we remember the eight members of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, beginning in 1864 and most recently in 2013, when President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the medal to Chaplain (Captain) Emil Kapaun, for his service during the Korean War. Chaplain Kapaun's remains were just identified on March 2, 2021, from among the 867 remains buried as “Unknowns” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Our United States Army will be sharing more details in the near future regarding upcoming Army tributes to Chaplain Kapaun’s service.
The Medal of Honor was established by Congress in 1862, to serve as the highest military honor presented to military personnel of the United States of America. It is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of Congress, for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty, in action against an enemy force. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton presented the first Medals of Honor on March 25, 1863. 3,473 Medals of Honor have been awarded to date.
Details about each of the Chaplain Corps' eight Medal of Honor recipients follow below, in reverse chronological order, beginning with Chaplain (Major) Charles Liteky, who was awarded the medal for his service during the Vietnam War.
Note that early citations for the Medal of Honor were very brief, even though the heroism honored by the award has always been significant.
- Chaplain (Captain) Charles Liteky, Vietnam War. Organization: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 199th Infantry Brigade. Place and date: Near Phuoc-Lac, Bien Hoa province, Republic of Vietnam, December 6, 1967. Date of issue: November 19, 1968. Born: February 14, 1931, in Washington, DC. Died: January 20, 2017.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE NAME OF CONGRESS, TAKES PLEASURE IN PRESENTING THE MEDAL OF HONOR TO CAPTAIN (CHAPLAIN) CHARLES JAMES LITEKY (ASN: 0-2326338), UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY AND INTREPIDITY AT THE RISK OF HIS LIFE ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY WHILE SERVING AS CHAPLAIN WITH HEADQUARTERS & HEADQUARTERS COMPANY, 199TH INFANTRY BRIGADE (SEPARATE) (LIGHT), IN ACTION AGAINST ENEMY AGGRESSOR FORCES AT PHUOC-LAC, BIEN HOA PROVINCE, REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM, ON 6 DECEMBER 1967. CHAPLAIN LITEKY WAS PARTICIPATING IN A SEARCH AND DESTROY OPERATION WHEN COMPANY A CAME UNDER INTENSE FIRE FROM A BATTALION SIZE ENEMY FORCE. MOMENTARILY STUNNED FROM THE IMMEDIATE ENCOUNTER THAT ENSUED, THE MEN HUGGED THE GROUND FOR COVER. OBSERVING TWO WOUNDED MEN, CHAPLAIN LITEKY MOVED TO WITHIN 15 METERS OF AN ENEMY MACHINEGUN POSITION TO REACH THEM, PLACING HIMSELF BETWEEN THE ENEMY AND THE WOUNDED MEN. WHEN THERE WAS A BRIEF RESPITE IN THE FIGHTING, HE MANAGED TO DRAG THEM TO THE RELATIVE SAFETY OF THE LANDING ZONE. INSPIRED BY HIS COURAGEOUS ACTIONS, THE COMPANY RALLIED AND BEGAN PLACING A HEAVY VOLUME OF FIRE UPON THE ENEMY'S POSITIONS. IN A MAGNIFICENT DISPLAY OF COURAGE AND LEADERSHIP, CHAPLAIN LITEKY BEGAN MOVING UPRIGHT THROUGH THE ENEMY FIRE, ADMINISTERING LAST RITES TO THE DYING AND EVACUATING THE WOUNDED. NOTICING ANOTHER TRAPPED AND SERIOUSLY WOUNDED MAN, CHAPLAIN LITEKY CRAWLED TO HIS AID. REALIZING THAT THE WOUNDED MAN WAS TOO HEAVY TO CARRY, HE ROLLED ON HIS BACK, PLACED THE MAN ON HIS CHEST AND THROUGH SHEER DETERMINATION AND FORTITUDE CRAWLED BACK TO THE LANDING ZONE USING HIS ELBOWS AND HEELS TO PUSH HIMSELF ALONG. PAUSING FOR BREATH MOMENTARILY, HE RETURNED TO THE ACTION AND CAME UPON A MAN ENTANGLED IN THE DENSE, THORNY UNDERBRUSH. ONCE MORE INTENSE ENEMY FIRE WAS DIRECTED AT HIM, BUT CHAPLAIN LITEKY STOOD HIS GROUND AND CALMLY BROKE THE VINES AND CARRIED THE MAN TO THE LANDING ZONE FOR EVACUATION. ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS WHEN THE LANDING ZONE WAS UNDER SMALL ARMS AND ROCKET FIRE, CHAPLAIN LITEKY STOOD UP IN THE FACE OF HOSTILE FIRE AND PERSONALLY DIRECTED THE MEDIVAC HELICOPTERS INTO AND OUT OF THE AREA. WITH THE WOUNDED SAFELY EVACUATED, CHAPLAIN LITEKY RETURNED TO THE PERIMETER, CONSTANTLY ENCOURAGING AND INSPIRING THE MEN. UPON THE UNIT'S RELIEF ON THE MORNING OF 7 DECEMBER 1967, IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT DESPITE PAINFUL WOUNDS IN THE NECK AND FOOT, CHAPLAIN LITEKY HAD PERSONALLY CARRIED OVER 20 MEN TO THE LANDING ZONE FOR EVACUATION DURING THE SAVAGE FIGHTING. THROUGH HIS INDOMITABLE INSPIRATION AND HEROIC ACTIONS, CHAPLAIN LITEKY SAVED THE LIVES OF A NUMBER OF HIS COMRADES AND ENABLED THE COMPANY TO REPULSE THE ENEMY. CHAPLAIN LITEKY'S ACTIONS REFLECT GREAT CREDIT UPON HIMSELF AND WERE IN KEEPING WITH THE HIGHEST TRADITIONS OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY.
- Chaplain (Major) Charles Watters, Vietnam War. Organization: Company A, 173d Support Battalion, 173d Airborne Brigade. Place and date: Near Dak To Province, Republic of Vietnam, November 19, 1967. Date of issue: November 4, 1969. Born: January 17, 1927, in Jersey City, N.J. Killed in action: November 19, 1967.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE NAME OF CONGRESS, TAKES PRIDE IN PRESENTING THE MEDAL OF HONOR (POSTHUMOUSLY) TO MAJOR (CHAPLAIN) CHARLES JOSEPH WATTERS (ASN: 0-3139624), UNITED STATES ARMY (RESERVE), FOR CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY AND INTREPIDITY AT THE RISK OF HIS LIFE ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY WHILE SERVING WITH COMPANY A, 173D SUPPORT BATTALION, 173D AIRBORNE BRIGADE, IN ACTION AGAINST ENEMY AGGRESSOR FORCES IN AN ASSAULT ON HILL 875, DAK TO, KONTUM PROVINCE, REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM, ON 19 NOVEMBER 1967. CHAPLAIN WATTERS WAS MOVING WITH ONE OF THE COMPANIES WHEN IT ENGAGED A HEAVILY ARMED ENEMY BATTALION. AS THE BATTLE RAGED AND THE CASUALTIES MOUNTED, CHAPLAIN WATTERS, WITH COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR HIS SAFETY, RUSHED FORWARD TO THE LINE OF CONTACT. UNARMED AND COMPLETELY EXPOSED, HE MOVED AMONG, AS WELL AS IN FRONT OF THE ADVANCING TROOPS, GIVING AID TO THE WOUNDED, ASSISTING IN THEIR EVACUATION, GIVING WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT, AND ADMINISTERING THE LAST RITES TO THE DYING. WHEN A WOUNDED PARATROOPER WAS STANDING IN SHOCK IN FRONT OF THE ASSAULTING FORCES, CHAPLAIN WATTERS RAN FORWARD, PICKED THE MAN UP ON HIS SHOULDERS AND CARRIED HIM TO SAFETY. AS THE TROOPERS BATTLED TO THE FIRST ENEMY ENTRENCHMENT, CHAPLAIN WATTERS RAN THROUGH THE INTENSE ENEMY FIRE TO THE FRONT OF THE ENTRENCHMENT TO AID A FALLEN COMRADE. A SHORT TIME LATER, THE PARATROOPERS PULLED BACK IN PREPARATION FOR A SECOND ASSAULT. CHAPLAIN WATTERS EXPOSED HIMSELF TO BOTH FRIENDLY AND ENEMY FIRE BETWEEN THE TWO FORCES IN ORDER TO RECOVER TWO WOUNDED SOLDIERS. LATER, WHEN THE BATTALION WAS FORCED TO PULL BACK INTO A PERIMETER, CHAPLAIN WATTERS NOTICED THAT SEVERAL WOUNDED SOLDIERS WERE LYING OUTSIDE THE NEWLY FORMED PERIMETER. WITHOUT HESITATION AND IGNORING ATTEMPTS TO RESTRAIN HIM, CHAPLAIN WATTERS LEFT THE PERIMETER THREE TIMES IN THE FACE OF SMALL ARMS, AUTOMATIC WEAPONS, AND MORTAR FIRE TO CARRY AND TO ASSIST THE INJURED TROOPERS TO SAFETY. SATISFIED THAT ALL OF THE WOUNDED WERE INSIDE THE PERIMETER, HE BEGAN AIDING THE MEDICS--APPLYING FIELD BANDAGES TO OPEN WOUNDS, OBTAINING AND SERVING FOOD AND WATER, GIVING SPIRITUAL AND MENTAL STRENGTH AND COMFORT. DURING HIS MINISTERING, HE MOVED OUT TO THE PERIMETER FROM POSITION TO POSITION REDISTRIBUTING FOOD AND WATER, AND TENDING TO THE NEEDS OF HIS MEN. CHAPLAIN WATTERS WAS GIVING AID TO THE WOUNDED WHEN HE HIMSELF WAS MORTALLY WOUNDED. CHAPLAIN WATTERS' UNYIELDING PERSEVERANCE AND SELFLESS DEVOTION TO HIS COMRADES WAS IN KEEPING WITH THE HIGHEST TRADITIONS OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY.
- Chaplain (Captain) Emil Kapaun, Korean War. Organization: 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. Place and date: Unsan, Korea, November 1-2, 1950. Date of issue: April 11, 2013. Born: April 20, 1916, in Pilsen, Kan. Died in captivity: May 23, 1951.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE NAME OF CONGRESS, TAKES PRIDE IN PRESENTING THE MEDAL OF HONOR (POSTHUMOUSLY) TO CAPTAIN (CHAPLAIN) EMIL JOSEPH KAPAUN, UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY AND INTREPIDITY IN ACTION ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY. CHAPLAIN KAPAUN DISTINGUISHED HIMSELF BY ACTS OF GALLANTRY AND INTREPIDITY ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY WHILE SERVING WITH THE 3D BATTALION, 8TH CAVALRY REGIMENT, 1ST CAVALRY DIVISION DURING COMBAT OPERATIONS AGAINST AN ARMED ENEMY AT UNSAN, KOREA, FROM 1 - 2 NOVEMBER 1950. ON 1 NOVEMBER, 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 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 2 NOVEMBER, 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 AMONGST 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 3D BATTALION, 8TH CAVALRY REGIMENT, THE 1ST CAVALRY DIVISION, AND THE UNITED STATES ARMY.
- Musician Calvin Titus, while serving as a chaplain assistant, China Relief Mission. Organization: Company E, 14th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: At Peking, China, August 14, 1900. Date of issue: March 11, 1902. Born: September 22, 1879, in Vinton, Iowa. Died: May 27, 1966.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE NAME OF CONGRESS, TAKES PLEASURE IN PRESENTING THE MEDAL OF HONOR TO MUSICIAN CALVIN PEARL TITUS, UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR GALLANT AND DARING CONDUCT IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS COLONEL AND OTHER OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN OF HIS REGIMENT ON 14 AUGUST 1900, WHILE SERVING WITH COMPANY E, 14TH INFANTRY, AT PEKING, CHINA. MUSICIAN TITUS WAS FIRST TO SCALE THE WALL OF THE CITY.
- Chaplain Milton Lorenzo Haney, Civil War. Organization: 55th Illinois Infantry. Place and date: At Atlanta, Ga., July 22, 1864. Date of issue: November 3, 1896. Born: January 23, 1825, in Savannah, Ohio. Died: January 20, 1922.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE NAME OF CONGRESS, TAKES PLEASURE IN PRESENTING THE MEDAL OF HONOR TO REGIMENTAL CHAPLAIN MILTON LORENZI HANEY, UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM ON 22 JULY 1864, WHILE SERVING WITH 55TH ILLINOIS INFANTRY, IN ACTION AT ATLANTA, GEORGIA. CHAPLAIN HANEY VOLUNTARILY CARRIED A MUSKET IN THE RANKS OF HIS REGIMENT AND RENDERED HEROIC SERVICE IN RETAKING THE FEDERAL WORKS WHICH HAD BEEN CAPTURED BY THE ENEMY.
- Chaplain (First Lieutenant) James Hill, Civil War. Organization: Company I, 21st Iowa Infantry. Place and date: At Champion Hill, Miss., May 16, 1863. Date of issue: March 15, 1893. Born: December 6, 1822, in England. Died: August 2, 1909.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE NAME OF CONGRESS, TAKES PLEASURE IN PRESENTING THE MEDAL OF HONOR TO FIRST LIEUTENANT (CHAPLAIN) JAMES HILL, UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM ON 16 MAY 1863, WHILE SERVING WITH COMPANY I, 21ST IOWA INFANTRY, IN ACTION AT CHAMPION HILL (BAKER'S CREEK), MISSISSIPPI. BY SKILLFUL AND BRAVE MANAGEMENT FIRST LIEUTENANT HILL CAPTURED THREE OF THE ENEMY'S PICKETS.
- Chaplain Francis B. Hall, Civil War. Organization: 16th New York Infantry. Place and date: At Salem Heights, Va., May 3, 1863. Date of issue: February 16, 1897. Born: November 16, 1827, in N.Y. Died: October 4, 1903.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE NAME OF CONGRESS, TAKES PLEASURE IN PRESENTING THE MEDAL OF HONOR TO CHAPLAIN FRANCIS BLOODGOOD HALL, UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM ON 3 MAY 1863, WHILE SERVING WITH 16TH NEW YORK INFANTRY, IN ACTION AT SALEM HEIGHTS, FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA. CHAPLAIN HALL VOLUNTARILY EXPOSED HIMSELF TO A HEAVY FIRE DURING THE THICKEST OF THE FIGHT AND CARRIED WOUNDED MEN TO THE REAR FOR TREATMENT AND ATTENDANCE.
- Chaplain John Whitehead, Civil War. Organization: 15th Indiana Infantry. Place and date: At Stone River, Tenn., December 31, 1862. Date of issue: April 4, 1898. Born: March 6, 1823, near Boston, Ind. Died: March 8, 1909.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN THE NAME OF CONGRESS, TAKES PLEASURE IN PRESENTING THE MEDAL OF HONOR TO CHAPLAIN JOHN MILTON WHITEHEAD, UNITED STATES ARMY, FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM ON 31 DECEMBER 1862, WHILE SERVING WITH 15TH INDIANA INFANTRY, IN ACTION AT STONE RIVER, TENNESSEE. CHAPLAIN WHITEHEAD WENT TO THE FRONT DURING A DESPERATE CONTEST AND UNAIDED CARRIED TO THE REAR SEVERAL WOUNDED AND HELPLESS SOLDIERS.