By late July of 1950, the soldiers from the 8th Cav. Reg, 1st ID were deep into the fight against communist forces near Pusan, Korea.Amongst the men, stood Capt. Emil Kapaun, a chaplain who was non stranger to combat and death, after having served in the Pacific during WW2.Throughout the months of fighting, Kapaun gained a reputation for bravely serving the troops, rescuing the wounded and dead, always on the front lines with his improvised altar set up on the front end of a Jeep.During a heavy skirmish, Kapaun and his assistant learned that a wounded soldier was left behind, pinned down by an enemy MG. With no litter bearers available, the two braved heavy fire and saved the man’s life.On Nov 2, 1950, nearly 20,000 Communist soldiers attacked the regiment. Despite the pleas for him to escape, Kapaun decided to stay behind with his men while the rest of the regiment retreated. During the battle, he braved enemy fire and rescued nearly 40 men. Under overwhelming odds, he and the remaining survivors were captured. Force marched 87 miles under brutal conditions to their prison camp.There, Kapaun completely devoted himself to his men. Gave away his own food, raised morale, smuggled in medicines and defied Communist indoctrination at any given time.On May 23, 1951 Kapaun died in captivity due to malnutrition and disease. He was the 12th Chaplain to die in Korea.Kapaun would receive many awards for valor, to include the Medal of Honor in 2013In 1993, Pope John Paul II named him a Servant of God and as of today, Kapaun is currently in the process of becoming a Saint.
What are your thoughts on military chaplains?
Personally, even though I haven’t been a Christian going on 20 years, I have a lot of respect for a person who has so much faith and compassion for service members going into battle, wounded, or dying… and performing their duties while under hostile fire, with no weapons and at the cost of many of their lives. They know this when they take the job. My standard for Army Chaplain is Father Francis Mulcahey from the 70’s show M.A.S.H. Funny enough, most chaplains that I have encountered while in garrison and while deployed are pretty much just like him… and I have always appreciated the service they provided to my troops.