HUGE NEWS! IDENTIFIED: Remains of Servant of God, Army Chaplain Fr. Emil Kapaun (MofH in Korean War!)

This is terrific news!

Fr. Kapaun was taken POW in Korea in the Battle of Unsan in 1950.  Their camp was overun by 20000 Chinese.  Kapaun rescued nearly 40 men while under fire.   He died in a N Korean camp and was buried in a mass grave.

Miracles for his cause, now open, have been claimed.

AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL – By direction of the President under the provisions of Executive Order 9419, and pursuant to the authority contained in AR-600-45, the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device for heroic achievement in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States is awarded the following named officer:

CHAPLAIN (CAPTAIN) EMIL J. KAPAUN 0558217, CHAPLAIN CORPS, UNITED STATES ARMY, a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Regiment, displayed heroism in action against the enemy near Kumchung, Korea on August 2, 1950. Chaplain KAPAUN received information that there was a wounded man in an exposed position on the left flank of the first battalion that could not be removed as there were no litter bearers available. Chaplain KAPAUN, together with another officer, immediately proceeded to the front lines, where he contacted the Battalion Commander in order to obtain the approximate location of the wounded man. With total disregard for personal safety, Chaplain KAPAUN and his companion went after the wounded man. The entire route to the wounded soldier was under intense enemy machinegun and small arms fire. However, Chaplain KAPAUN successfully evacuated the soldier, thereby saving the soldier. This heroic action on the part of Chaplain KAPAUN reflects great credit on himself and the military.

His Medal of Honor citation reads:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the MEDAL OF HONOR to

for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Chaplain Emil J. KAPAUN distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea, from November 1–2, 1950. On November 1, 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 November 2, 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 among 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 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the United States Army.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Diane says:

    Wow that’s amazing news! So glad to hear it!

  2. Padre Pio Devotee says:

    Deo Gratias!

  3. WarriorSpirit says:

    SEMPER FIDELIS, Servant of God, Fr. Kapaun! Welcome Home!

  4. The only better news would be to find his body incorrupt. But I’ll take this.

  5. JPaulZ says:

    Good news about an exemplary and remarkable man. I also discovered the Vatican is pursuing Venerable status for Fr. Emil Kapaun.

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  7. aquinasadmirer says:


    I see there are a couple of books on amazon about Fr. Kapaun. Does anyone have a book recommendation?


  8. hwriggles4 says:

    There’s a really good DVD about him that I have watched. I think you can order it through the EWTN religious catalog.

    Fr. Kapaun (CPT,CHC,USA) was definitely a Courageous Priest. I am also learning more about another Courageous Priest, Fr. Aloysius Schmidt(LTJG,CHC, USNR) who managed to help 11 men escape the USS Oklahoma from a porthole on December 7, 1941.

  9. mlmc says:

    There was a 1950s TV series Crossroads which was about Clergy & Fr Kapaun was a subject of one of the episodes:

    I have read the Miracle of Fr Kapaun and it is good- it sure if the other books are better. His combination of faith, service and humor saved many men- I read that the POW camp he was in had a significantly lower death rate than the other camps b/c of his effort to maintain the men’s morale & faith- the other camps the unit integrity disintegrated and it became a Lord of the Flies existence-but not his camp- the men took care of each other b/c of his example. For this he probably merits sainthood alone but in addition there are now 3 miracles claimed to be from prayers for his intercession. I have always found it a great reassurance to know that every clergyman to have been awarded the MoH since the civil war was Catholic- we can never have enough of such men.

  10. dd113 says:

    Fr. Kapaun’s remains had apparently been buried at the VA’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii (“Punchbowl”) since the Korean War as an “unknown.” Fr. Kapaun was not part of the 55 remains that were repatriated in 2019. A systematic accounting of the burials in Hawaii in ongoing by the DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.)

    This is absolutely stunning news. Fr. Kapaun was a holy, manly and incredibly compassionate priest, not to mention that he was one of the most courageous soldiers ever to walk a battlefield.

  11. LT Brass Bancroft says:

    Very exciting news for me. The parish where many relatives and I were baptized was consolidated into Fr. Kapaun’s hometown parish several years ago.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    Deo gratias. Outstanding post and comments. Well done DPAA.

    mlmc: Bravo Zulu with the Crossroads series.

    hwriggles: Thanks, didn’t know there was a DVD. Fr. Schmitt was apparently the first U.S. chaplain KIA in WW II.

    aquinasadmirer: Asked around a bit about books, it seems “The Story of Chaplain Kapaun, Patriot Priest of the Korean Conflict” edged out the others, second place went to “Shepherd in Combat Boots” and “The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero” which begins “in media res” in Korea, November 1950.

    During the massive ChiCom attack Fr. Kapaun was as calm as he was busy: on the frontline dragging the wounded to safety, helping the overworked medics, hearing Confessions, offering General Absolution and Last Rites in Latin and English for all soldiers, individually or in small groups, in the battalion. Fr. Kapaun’s service in captivity was remarkable.

  13. sjoseph371 says:

    I second the nomination of “The Miracle of Father Kapaun: Priest, Soldier and Korean War Hero” as a great book to read about Fr. K. Funny story about him while in captivity – men were talking to him about the harshness of their treatment in the camp. . . . Fr. K. said something to the effect of “You think THIS is tough, you should have to deal with the old church women of the parish council and THEN you’ll know inhumane treatment!”
    Great to know the Vatican is taking up his cause to elevate him to Venerable status.

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