Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun, while assigned to Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism, patriotism, and selfless service between Nov. 1-2, 1950. During the Battle of Unsan, Kapaun was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. 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 exposed himself to enemy fire to recover wounded men, dragging them to safety. When he couldn't drag them, he 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. He was taken as a prisoner of war by Chinese forces on Nov. 2, 1950.
After he was captured, Kapaun and other prisoners were 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. When the Chinese instituted a mandatory re-education program, Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the instructors. Later, Kapaun openly flouted his captors by conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951.
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. As he was being carried to the hospital, he asked God's forgiveness for his captors, and made his fellow prisoners promise to keep their faith. Chaplain Kapaun died in captivity on May 23, 1951.
Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun repeatedly risked his own life to save the lives of hundreds of fellow Americans. His extraordinary courage, faith and leadership inspired thousands of prisoners to survive hellish conditions, resist enemy indoctrination, and retain their faith in God and country. His actions reflect the utmost credit upon him, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the United States Army.
U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division History
1st Cavalry Division History
In 1921, the 8th Cavalry Regiment was one of the original units of the newly formed 1st Cavalry Division. The 8th Cavalry, symbolized by a proud and unconquered white Mustang, has had a long and distinguished history. The 8th Cavalry was formed at Angel Island, California in 1866 and fought throughout the West during the Indian Wars. Always ready to ride to wherever they were needed; in 1888 the Mustangs set the record for the longest mounted move by any American Cavalry Regiment, 2447 miles from Fort Concho, Texas to Fort Keough, Montana.
Following the outbreak of World War II, The 8th Cavalry saw action in the Southwest Pacific and holds the honor of being the first unit to enter the Philippine Capital of Manila.
When the conflict in Korea erupted, the 8th Cavalry conducted the first amphibious landing of the Korean War and was the first unit into the North Korean Capital of Pyongyang.
U.S. Army Chaplain Corps History
The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps is a profession of religious and spiritual Soldiers and leaders who build the spiritual and moral resiliency of the Army family now and for the future. Chaplains, with the support of Chaplain Assistants, provide religious and emotional support to America's Army while assisting commanders in ensuring the right of free exercise of religion for all Soldiers.
Since July 29, 1775, approximately 25,000 Army Chaplains have served as religious and spiritual leaders for 25 million Soldiers and their Families. From military installations to deployed combat units and from service schools to military hospitals, Army Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants have performed their ministries in the most religiously diverse organization in the world. Always present with their Soldiers in war and in peace, Army Chaplains have served in more than 270 major wars and combat engagements. Nearly 300 Army Chaplains have laid down their lives in battle. Six have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Currently, over 2,900 Chaplains are serving the Total Army representing over 130 different religious organizations.
Two Korean War prisoners of war recently recalled the heroism of Medal of Honor recipient Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun, who gave his life while helping others survive the harsh conditions of... MORE about Former POWs recall bravery, heroism of Korean War chaplain
The Army Chaplain Corps, in marking its 238th anniversary, held a memorial service for a Korean War chaplain who gave his life to save others. MORE about Chaplain Corps anniversary honors Korean War priest
An Army chaplain and Medal of Honor recipient, Capt. Emil J. Kapaun, was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, April 12, 2013. MORE about Army chaplain inducted into Hall of Heroes
Medal of Honor Citation: Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun MORE about Medal of Honor Citation for Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun
Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun was postumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony, April 11, 2013. In a ceremony the following day at the Pentagon... MORE about Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun receives Medal of Honor, enters Hall of Heroes
An Army chaplain, Capt. Emil J. Kapaun, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, April 11, 2013, for his actions leading up to his capture as a prisoner of war in North Korea. MORE about Medal of Honor awarded to Army chaplain
Narrative for Medal of Honor recipient Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun MORE about Medal of Honor Narrative: Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun
The start of hostilities in Korea during June 1950 caught most American officials off guard, and those in charge of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps were no exception. MORE about Under Fire: Army Chaplains in Korea, 1950
Communist forces encircled the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, assigned to provide a rear guard for the regiment's withdrawal, Nov. 1, 1950, near Unsan, North Korea... MORE about Selfless service, devotion to Soldiers define Korean War chaplain's service
There is a bust of his likeness, a statue in the middle of an Air Force Administrative Annex in the Kaiserslautern Military Community in faraway Germany, an ocean away from his hometown roots and a... MORE about Kaiserslautern Military Community hosts memorial to Father Emil Kapaun to be awarded Medal of Honor
Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun served as an Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War. He earned the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross, which will be officially upgraded to a... MORE about Faithful priest, dedicated Soldier: Korean War chaplain to receive MOH
A former Soldier with the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama, April 11, 2013, at the White House. MORE about Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun to receive Medal of Honor
Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Joseph Kapaun served with Headquarters Company, 8th Cav. in the Korean War where he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross Aug. 18, 1951. The award of the... MORE about Former 8th Cav Troop to receive Medal of Honor
President Barack Obama announced March 11, 2013, that Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun will be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, April 11, for his actions leading up to his capture as a... MORE about Army chaplain to be awarded Medal of Honor
Biography for Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun, April 20, 1916 - May 23, 1951 MORE about Biography for Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun
- SecDef Hagel's remarks at Chaplain Kapaun Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony
- SecArmy McHugh's remarks at Chaplain Kapaun Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony
- CSA's remarks at Chaplain Kapaun Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony
- BIOGRAPHY: Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun
- Medal of Honor Citation
- Official Narrative
- STAND-TO!: Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun
- White House Announcement
- Chaplain Kapaun Artifacts
- Army Chaplain Corps -- Chaplain Kapaun
- Army.mil: Medal of Honor
- STAND-TO!: Army Values
- Spiritual and Secular Mix in Case for Sainthood (NY Times)
- Father Emil Kapaun (ARMY Magazine) (PDF)
- The Miracle of Father Kapaun (The Wichita Eagle)
- Kapaun to receive Medal of Honor (Hillsboro Star Journal)
- Saint Dismas, The Good Thief - Father Emil J. Kapaun, U.S. Army, WWII and Korean War (1916-1951) (Hawaii Reporter)
- Korean War Priest's Valor In Combat Earns Him A Posthumous Medal Of Honor (Business Insider)
- Kapaun's Medal of Honor to go to Pilsen (Kansas City Star)
- Chaplain Emil Kapaun gets Medal of Honor 62 years after death (KTRK -TV Houston)
- Kapaun to get Medal of Honor in April (The Wichita Eagle)
- Possible saint gets a big military honor from White House (Religion News Service)
- Fr. Emil Kapaun, Chaplain, Awarded Medal Of Honor; Candidate For Sainthood (Huffington Post)
- Korean War Chaplain to be awarded posthumous MoH (Military.com)
- AFMW: Father John Hotze (Fox News Radio)
- Soldier priest to get ultimate medal (CNN)
- Anticipation growing for Kapaun medal presentation (Hillsboro Free Press)
- Korean War chaplain to be awarded posthumous Medal of Honor (Stars and Stripes)
- Emil Kapaun, who ministered to Korean War POWs, to receive posthumous medal (The Washington Post)
- Fellow POWs share joy in chaplain's posthumous honor (Kansas City Star)
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