April 12, 2013, - 5:04 pm

Father Emil Kapaun: A Real American Hero Finally Gets His Due 60 Years Late (VIDEO)

By Debbie Schlussel

Father Emil Kapaun, a Catholic priest and military chaplain, is truly a saint. He sacrificed his life and well-being for American soldiers in North Korea. Now, this incredible hero is finally getting the recognition he deserved. I think of what Father Kapaun gave up to save American soldiers from the enemy in battle and contrast it with the Air Force Chaplain who’s getting a Bronze Star for giving a Powerpoint presentation on how to properly handle the Koran.

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Watch this short, but VERY TOUCHING, video on Father Kapaun.

Father Emil Kapaun was called a “shepherd in combat boots,” a hero who fought with faith and valor instead of guns and grenades. Sixty years after saving hundreds of soldiers in the dark days of the Korean War, Kapaun was honored today with the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award. “This is the valor we honor today — an American soldier who didn’t fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all, a love for his brothers so pure that he was willing to die so that they might live,” Obama said at a White House ceremony.


When Chinese forces entered the war with a massive surprise attack, his commanders ordered an evacuation, but Kapaun stayed to help his fellow soldiers. He gathered the injured, tended to their wounds and ultimately helped negotiate a safe surrender. As his captors were leading him away, Kapaun noticed a wounded American soldier, laying defenseless in a ditch. An enemy soldier stood over him, a gun pointed at his head. Undeterred, Kapaun marched over and pushed the enemy solider aside, saving his comrade. Today, that soldier, Sgt. Herbert Miller, wept as he sat in the front row of the East Room of the White House, listening to Obama retell his story. . . .

But Kapaun’s bravery didn’t end there. “He carried that injured American, for miles, as their captors forced them on a death march. When Father Kapaun grew tired, he’d help the wounded soldier hop on one leg. When other prisoners stumbled, he picked them up. When they wanted to quit — knowing that stragglers would be shot — he begged them to keep walking,” Obama explained. In the prisoner-of-war camp that winter, Kapaun made it his mission to help keep his fellow Americans alive, offering them his clothing and sneaking past guards to forage for food. “They lived in filth. He washed their clothes and he cleansed their wounds,” Obama explained.

The horrendous conditions, however, finally took their toll on Kapaun. As he was taken by guards to a “death house,” where he would be left to die, he blessed his captors. “Forgive them,” he said, “for they know not what they do.” After seven months as a prisoner, Kapaun died of starvation and pneumonia, and was buried in an unmarked grave. His remains are still somewhere in North Korea.

And, yet, Dennis Rodman is the one who gets the notoriety for his stint in North Korea. How ’bout we trade Rodman for Kapaun’s remains?

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Fr. Emil Kapaun (Right) Helps Wounded Soldier

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16 Responses

This is a blessed man, under any religious standards.

This reminds me of a Hungarian Jewish immigrant to the United States. Tibor Rubin He went through the concentration camps, came to America, , and fought for the USA and was captured in Korea. His captors offered to send him back to Hungary, then a communist ally of North Korea. He said no, that he was a proud American. Much like Father Kapaun, he aided and gave comfort to his fellow POW’s, telling them to be strong, and teaching them how to survive (as he had experience in Nazi concentration camps). He was awarded the Medal of Honor under George Bush.

Two great men. Now compare them to Dennis Rodman, Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi. How far we have fallen.

Jonathan E. Grant on April 12, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Here is what Rubin’s citation said:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully.Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit’s line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese. Choosing to remain in the prison camp despite offers from the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners. Corporal Rubin’s gallant actions in close contact with the enemy and unyielding courage and bravery while a prisoner of war are in the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.[4]

Jonathan E. Grant on April 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Excellent post JEG.
    There ought to be a whole website dedicated to stories of true heroes like these. G_D knows we need them.

    theShadow on April 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm

They are cheering him in heaven right now!

RIP Hero and our deepest apologies for the politics of your sacrifice :(

As goes, so goes.. on April 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm

This story made me very teary. It also reminded me what we must do if ever in his situation. I hope I am up for the challenge.

America needs more people like Father Kapaun. His story is humbling.

I will re-visit this story often. I’ll need the reminder on how to stay true and to do the right thing.

Skunky on April 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Father Emil Kapaun was a martyr, hero, and by all accounts saint like in the worst conditions imaginable. His deeds were rare because his motives were pure.

    As Debbie noted, we now honor people for Power Point presentations. Our society is probably incapable of producing the likes of Father Kapaun now.

    Worry01 on April 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Lt. Col. Jon Trainer should hide his face in shame to share even a fragment of the honor received by Fr. Kapaun.
60 yrs…really?!…it took 60 years?
I know the gov’t moves slow, but, really?

theShadow on April 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    He should be forced to eat his own laptop and Microsoft Office.

    Worry01 on April 13, 2013 at 4:51 am

It’s just a pity that such a courageous person has to be eulogized by such an insincere one.
Was he using his teleprompter?

Frankz on April 13, 2013 at 6:34 am

People like Father Kapaun, who actually LIVE their faith, are truly the most blessed people I can think of. Despite the horrors of the battlefield & the PIW camp, this man tended to what became his flock. And just like Marines, this Army chaplain REFUSED to leave his brothers behind & REFUSED to knuckle under to the enemy. I read this story with tears in my eyes.

The shame of it all is that it took SO LONG for this hero to get the recognition he deserved. I have read both of Marcus Luttrell’s books (“Lone Survivor” & “Service”). In them, he talks about how even though he recived a Navy Cross for his part in Operation Redwing, there were 14 other SEALS who deserved the same, if not HIGHER honors than HE did. His best friend & the leader of his 4 man team, Lt. Michael Murphy recieved the Medal of Honor posthumously for walking into a clearing to use a cell phone to call for help as his men were under heavy contact from 360 degrees from the ridges above. His last words were, “SEND SOME AIR SUPPORT UP HERE, MY GUYS ARE DYING!” He was fatally shot right after that. The other 2 men, Danny Axelson & Danny Dietz, also died shortly after. Luttrell literally FELL down the remainder of the mountain & crawled for MILES before being found by Pashtun villagers who aided him, treated his wounds the best they could, & kept the Taliban away from him, even under threat of death for the ENTIRE village. They eventually sent one of their elders to walk THROUGH the Taliban lines, 15 miles to a Marine FOB with a note from Luttrell explaining that he was alive & that the rest of his unit was missing. However, Luttrell’s unit wasn’t the only one to suffer such horrible casualties that day. A helo FULL of 10 more SEALS & Air Force PJ’s was shot down by an RPG with no survivors as they flew to the aid of Luttrell’s unit. And THIS is the ethos that makes our military THE BEST. Dead or alive, your brothers & sisters WILL NOT leave you behind. NO MATTER WHAT. And it is thst ethos that Father Kapaun lived & died by. I salute Father Kapaun & ALL the men who’s sacrifices have yet to be, or never will be, recognized. They are the TRUEST of American heroes. And we’re DAMNED lucky to have them.

The motto of the Air Force para-rescue jumpers (PJ’s) is, “That Others May Live.” After reading this piece, as well as Luttrell’s books, along with many others, its clear to THIS former Navy brat that the PJ motto is alive & well in every unit in our military.

Cicero's Ghost (NB) on April 13, 2013 at 10:20 am

thanks for the story of a great hero

martin on April 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

I hope the Vatican is paying attention to this story of a true hero who deserves to be canonized a saint.

Rochelle on April 13, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Rochelle: they are – the title of Servant of God is the first stage in the process of canonization. But the Vatican does not “make” saints, and either there is no God or this man is with God in Heaven right now.

    Laura Latini on April 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Wow what a great man he was! Compare and contrast to how sick the brass in the military, and the WH, is today — passing out a Bronze Star for nothing more than political corectness. Really gets on the few nerves I have left.

Debbie, did you get your taxes done? Tommorow is the deadline. Yeeeoouch!

Wild Jew man on April 14, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Thank-you Miss Schlussel for penning this remembrance piece about Fr. Kapaun, a Catholic priest most Americans (and certainly all Canadians) would know nothing about otherwise.

Blogs have a staying power that news clips still don’t have.

It is painful to watch Obama comment on the life of Fr. Kapaun. Barack Obama still doesn’t get Christianity.

He may never get it.

He certainly doesn’t get Fr. Kapaun.

Fr. Kapaun’s only weapon was love, according to Obama—the repackaged liberal version of that—doing good deeds for his POW community. Nope. Fr. Kapaun’s real weapon was the liturgy. The Mass. He brought Jesus Christ (the Eucharist) right into his particular POW camp and at the very same time divine judgment down upon all those hostile to God, and humanity. And just because God reserves the full force of his justice for the next world (there is no justice in this world), the Communist fools tend to wink at such talk.

But his judgement awaits them.

…and somehow—they know it.

So they have no excuse. Then, or now.

I nurse my particular hatred for Communism, all the time, by reflecting upon its murderous and dehumanizing achievements the world over.

No amount of revisionism is possible to save it.

Old-party Communists, or just budding ones, are always in the ‘ready room’ of life, even now, at a moment’s notice, once again ready to spring into action, to prove themselves for the worthless human beings they are, by that way they have always proven it—by their refusal to be humane. Something, that normally comes quite naturally to man, but something that Communism socially engineers away until only an atheistic shell of the person is left. We needn’t mention how Communism also fails to give God his due, which comes before the due owed mankind, of course.

So there Fr. Kapaun was, an emissary for the Kingdom of God until his health finally failed him. Jesus Christ and the Apostles went everywhere preaching the Gospel and the central message of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ is KIng. And Messiah. Because of what Jesus earned for humanity on the cross, by the shedding of his infinitely precious blood, by dying, and by lastly being resurrected to take his rightful place at the right hand of the Father.

So the North Koreans refuse the rule of God, still, as recent developments have made clear.

But so does Barack Obama.

No matter, they will pay the full price for their sins as all must, who are at war with God.

FORMER Fetus on April 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I cannot think of appropriate words here. But as one vet to another, I can only say thank you brother. “All gave some; but some gave all.”

Russ on April 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

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