* BEST OF DTB #87* The Catholic Defender: The Father Kapaun Story

Posted by John Benko - May 13th, 2011


We have had several Catholic Priests who have served their Faith and their Country with heroic fortitude and courage.

One such Priest was Father Emil J. Kapaun. He was from Wichita, Kansas and on Holy Thurday, 1944 he entered the United States Chaplaincy.

In 1948 he was sent to Japan before he went to Korea in July 1950.

That On coming November 2 (All Soul’s Day), Father Kapaun was taken prisoner by the Chinese and North Koreans.

He was in their prisons for seven months. Father Kapaun spent himself in heroic service to all the Soldiers serving with him as a POW.

Ignoring his own health he continued to serve those he considered his flock, which was all of them regardless of faith background.

The stories of his heroism was reported by eyewitnesses who claimed he did the work of three men.

He would find ways of getting food to give to those starving from the Chinese and Koreans. “He would sneak past the guards to visit the enlisted men and sick at the peril of his life”.

The Communist authorities told Father Kapaun that prayer would not help his men; medicine was the only thing that would do any good”.

Father Kapaun replied, “Since they aren’t getting any medicine, I don’t think it would hurt to try a little prayer”.

Capt Ray M. Dowe Jr would later say of Father Kapaun that the chaplain stole wood every morning in winter months to warm other POWs when they arose, washed the cloths of those who had dysentery and cleaned the latrines.

Then Father Kapaun became ill. Father Kapaun developed a blood clot in his Left leg that prevented his daily rounds.

“When he started to recover, the Chinese took him to the hospital against the directions” of the doctor, Maj Clarence L. Anderson.

The chinese “threw him in the death room where they deglected him until he died on May 23, 1951. The Communist killed him because they could not cope with him. He was the greatest man I have ever known”.

Father recieved the “Legion of Merit”, the “Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism near Unsan, when on 2 November 1950, his regiment was under attack for 36 hours. He was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for valor while aiding a wounded soldier under intense enemy fire near Kumchon, Korea.

Father Kapaun represents the finest of Americans who went to war defending life and liberty believing that America stood for those freedoms.

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