President Obama has posthumously awarded Father Emil Kapaun the Congressional Medal of Honor. Father Kapun didn’t fight the war in Korea with a weapon but instead with his bravery, dedication to fellow soldiers and a humble adherence to God’s word. From the White House:
Chaplain Kapaun will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his extraordinary heroism while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea and as a prisoner of war from November 1-2, 1950.
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. Shortly after his capture, Chaplain Kapaun bravely pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute a comrade, thus saving a life and inspiring all those present to remain and fight the enemy until captured.
Father Kapaun has also been nominated for a much greater honor – the Vatican has dispatched investigators to determine if prayers to the Chaplain’s memory resulted in lifesaving treatment for a man in Kansas:
Andrea Ambrosi will arrive in Wichita on Friday and then will head on to Colwich. He’s traveling from Rome to investigate on behalf of the Catholic Church whether 20-year-old Chase Kear survived a severe head injury last year in part because his friends and family prayed to Father Emil Kapaun.
On June 29, 2008 two separate commissions will be established to formally scrutinize and document Father Kapaun’s virtuous life. The Theological Commission will be given the task of reviewing all of Father Kapaun’s writings. The Historical Commission will be taking testimony from all who knew or had met Father Kapaun. This will prove to be an extensive investigation of Father Kapaun’s life, from his youth in Pilsen through his years as a Priest in the Diocese of Wichita to his service as an Army Chaplain and his ultimate death in the North Korean Prison Camp.
Once this information has been gathered and documented, it will be sent to the Congregation for Saints in Rome. Dr. Andrea Ambrosi of the Ambrosi Law Firm in Rome will help guide the diocesan phase of the canonization process. Once complete, Dr. Ambrosi will oversee the Roman phase of the process as the cause is presented to the Congregation for Saints.