On Thursday, April 11, President Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry to Father Emil Kapaun, a U.S. Army chaplain and alumnus of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Father Kapaun earned a master's degree in education from CUA in 1948.
A friend of Fr. Kapaun and retired CUA theology professor, Fr. Gerard Sloyan, was present at the awards ceremony. Also in attendance were representatives of the Diocese of Wichita, which has led the investigation's for Fr, Kapaun's cause for canonization.
The Catholic University of America currently has three priest-alumni who are being considered for sainthood: Fr. Emil Kapaun, Fr. Theodore Foley, C.P, and Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, according to the University.
Here's more about Fr. Kapaun from the University:
The medal honors Father Kapaun’s extraordinary heroism in November 1950 while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations at Unsan, Korea, and as a prisoner of war.
Standing near a light-blue Medal of Honor banner decorated with gold stars, Obama noted that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. “Among the homecomings was a group of POWS who appeared carrying a large wooden crucifix. They had spent months working on it, using firewood and radio wire, as a tribute to their friend, their chaplain and their fellow prisoner, Father Emil Kapaun.”
Father Kapaun, who used to sneak out of the POW barracks to get food for his fellow prisoners and once pushed aside an enemy soldier getting ready to execute a comrade, didn’t survive the war. He died at the age of 35 in a POW camp in Pyoktong, North Korea, in May 1951.
He was remembered at the ceremony as a man of faith known for his courage, humor, and down-to-earth manner. Born in Pilsen, Kan., in 1916, Father Kapaun served as a chaplain in both World War II and Korea.
The medal citation noted that “when 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. When they found themselves surrounded by the enemy, the able-bodied men were ordered to evacuate."
“Chaplain Kapaun, fully aware of his certain capture, elected to stay behind with the wounded. As hand-to-hand combat ensued, he continued to make rounds. As enemy 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."
Read more about the Medal of Honor ceremony for Fr. Kapaun here.
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