Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

A Halo and a Medal for Emil Kapaun? ^ | June 2012 | WAU staff

Posted on 06/01/2012 6:13:04 PM PDT by Salvation

A Halo and a Medal for Emil Kapaun?

This Korean War military chaplain may be declared a hero and a saint.

A Halo and a Medal for Emil Kapaun?

US Army chaplain Emil Kapaun died in a POW camp in North Korea on May 23, 1951. Now, six decades later, his cause for canonization is underway, as is an effort to posthumously award him the Medal of Honor.

An article about Fr. Kapaun is appearing in the July-August 2012 issue of The Word Among Us magazine: “When the Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary: The Life and Death of Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun.” It is coauthored by Dominic and Kevin Perrotta, who have compiled the following additional information: about the status of Fr. Kapaun’s cause, about the Medal of Honor, and about the Korean War. If you’d like to learn more about Fr. Kapaun, see the “for more information” section below.

Cause for Sainthood

The diocese of Wichita is pursuing the canonization of Fr. Emil Kapaun. The initial investigation has been completed at the diocesan level and the results passed on to the Vatican. He has been officially declared Servant of God, the first step toward sainthood.

At least two possible miracles associated with Fr. Kapaun’s intercession are under investigation by the Vatican. Both involve young people in the diocese of Wichita, Kansas, who experienced remarkable recoveries from critical illness. In each case, the doctors involved have described the recovery as miraculous.

Avery’s Story. In October 2006, twelve year-old Avery Gerleman began coughing up blood during a soccer game and, over the course of several days, developed advanced lung and kidney failure. She was placed on a ventilator and kidney dialysis, and her doctors, who determined she had an unusual auto-immune condition, did not expect her to live. Her family, who had a devotion to Fr. Kapaun, prayed to him persistently.

When Avery emerged from a coma and began a slow recovery, the pediatric intensivist and nephrologist who cared for her expected that she would, at the very least, have permanent and extensive lung and kidney impairment and be dependent on oxygen and dialysis. The family continued to pray to Fr. Kapaun, and Avery made a complete recovery. Six months later she was playing competitive soccer again.

Chase’s Story. In October 2008, when nineteen-year-old Chase Kear suffered a grave head injury from a pole vaulting accident, his parents and family began enlisting their parish to pray to Fr. Kapaun ( A neurosurgeon removed a portion of his skull to relieve pressure on his swollen brain but gave him little likelihood of survival. His parents were told to expect that, if he did live, it would be with profound brain damage.

Within a few weeks, as prayers to Fr. Kapaun continued, Chase returned home from rehabilitation, having made an extensive recovery. In the spring of 2010, he resumed pole vaulting. He wore a helmet.


Lord Jesus, in the midst of the folly of war, your servant, Chaplain Emil Kapaun spent himself in total service to you on the battlefields and in the prison camps of Korea, until his death at the hands of his captors.

We now ask you, Lord Jesus, if it be your will, to make known to all the world the holiness of Chaplain Kapaun and the glory of his complete sacrifice for you by signs of miracles and peace.

In your name, Lord, we ask, for you are the source of peace, the strength of our service to others, and our final hope.


Chaplain Kapaun, pray for us.

(taken from the Catholic Diocese of Wichita website)

The Medal of Honor

During the American forces’ drive north from Inchon, Fr. Kapaun was awarded a Bronze Star for valor for risking his life to save a wounded soldier. The Army posthumously awarded him its second highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his bravery on the field of battle when his battalion was overrun at Unsan and he was captured.

Each branch of the US military has as its highest award, a Medal of Honor. It is sometimes mislabeled the Congressional Medal of Honor, since it can also be given by act of Congress. From the beginning of World War II, fewer than nine hundred awards of this honor have been made, nearly two-third of them posthumous.

Following the Korean War, a number of Fr. Kapaun’s fellow prisoners worked to have him decorated for his actions as a POW as well. There is some precedence for this—two POWs in Vietnam were presented the Medal of Honor for their leadership in resisting their captors. However, the time limit for awarding the Medal of Honor expired without its being granted to Fr. Kapaun.

In 2000, the US Representative for the Congressional district including Pilsen began the process of legislation to award Fr. Kapaun a Medal of Honor now, long after the time limit has expired. In 2009 the Secretary of the Army and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated he deserved the decoration. There is currently legislation before Congress which, if approved, will award him the Medal of Honor. On January 27th, 2012, Kansas’ Congressional delegation addressed a letter to the Secretary of Defense, urging him to recommend that the President award the medal to Chaplain Kapaun.

The Korean War

At the end of World War II, Japan’s Korean territory was divided by the Allies into spheres of supervision, much as was done with Germany. Control of the northern half was given to the USSR and of the south to the US. It was assumed that an arbitrary dividing line at the 38th parallel would shortly disappear as the Allies turned the peninsula back over to the Koreans.

Five years later, in June of 1950, the North Korean People’s Army surprised the American military command in the Far East who had ignored intelligence reports of a pending invasion. General Douglas MacArthur scrambled to send a small American force to South Korea to slow the Communist advance while he planned a counterattack. Americans troops who had grown soft relaxing on occupation duty in Japan were suddenly thrown into a bitter fight against a well-trained and well-supplied North Korean force which nearly drove them off the southern end of the peninsula at Pusan. An audacious flank attack by MacArthur at Inchon forced the Communists to withdraw, and the US forces, formally part of a UN expedition, drove them nearly to their northern border with China and Russia.

Ignoring the looming threat of Chinese intervention, and warnings from Washington, MacArthur drove his scattered and under-supplied forces to finish off the North Koreans before winter fell. The Chinese People’s Army, waiting for this moment, drove south in massive numbers, cutting off entire American units and capturing large numbers of prisoners. MacArthur, unchastened and increasingly insubordinate in his agitation for a larger war, was relieved of duties by President Harry Truman.

The remaining commanders, wiser and more experienced, pushed the Chinese back to roughly where the war began at the 38th parallel. After another year of bitter fighting without an appreciable gain for either side, a truce was called. It has held, more or less, since then, as South Korea became one of the most prosperous countries in Asia and North Korea vanished into the gloom of the world’s most oppressive and insular dictatorship.

Fr. Emil Kapaun joined the American forces that landed at Inchon and then advanced with them as they battled their way north, almost to the Chinese border. There his unit was overwhelmed by the sudden attack of the Chinese People’s Army. He and thousands of other American soldiers were taken prisoner. The American prisoners of war were released only after the truce talks which ended the fighting. By this time, Fr. Kapaun had died.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; saints

For More Information on Fr. Kapaun


The diocese of Wichita maintains a website on Fr. Kapaun.

Kapaun Mount Carmel Catholic High School, Wichita, KS, also maintains a website.

Online Articles

The Wichita Eagle has run a continuing series of articles on Fr. Kapaun, beginning December 6, 2009.

Search the Eagle website for subsequent pieces, including an article on Chase Kear’s healing (see above).

The BBC News Magazine recently published an article on Fr. Kapaun by journalist Daniel Nasaw (April 16, 2012).


A Saint Among Us, Father Kapaun Guild (Wichita Chancery Office) KS, 2009.

The Story of Chaplain Kapaun, Fr. (Msgr.) Arthur Tonne, 1954, Didde Publishers, Emporia KS.

A Shepherd in Combat Boots, William L. Maher, 1997, Burd Street Press, Shippensburg, PA, ISBN 1-57249-305-4

1 posted on 06/01/2012 6:13:08 PM PDT by Salvation
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Salvation; Frank Sheed

Father Kapaun, the Servant of God, was a great man. I’m sure his cause will progress to canonization in God’s time. (We have to get Father McGivney through first!) Father Cappodanno (sp?), the Vietnam War chaplain, also has a cause in progress.

2 posted on 06/01/2012 7:09:35 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Make sure you notice that I'm being subtly ironic!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Tax-chick
A Halo and a Medal for Emil Kapaun?
Prison Mates Promote Cause of Heroic Korean War Priest
Recognition Finally for a Warrior Priest's Heroics
ACTION ITEM ALERT! Pres. Obama, through a minion, attacks Catholic chaplains once again
Airborne Forces Priests Will Make Parachute Jumps During Their Training [Russia]
Religious Speech in the Military: Freedoms and Limitations

Soldier, Chaplain, Shepherd (Auxiliary Bishop Rick Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for Military)
Catholics Seek to Boost Number of Priests Serving as Chaplains
Catholic Chaplain Finds UK Troops in Afghanistan Hungering For Religion
U.S. troops in Afghanistan
Cross removed at base in Afghanistan
Mass During Wartime
The Traditional Latin Mass -- in Afghanistan
Uncle Sam attracts more (Catholic) military chaplains
Evangelical Chaplains Refuse to Marry Gay Couples on Military Bases
Over 2,000 Evangelical, Orthodox Chaplains Join Catholics in Opposing Pentagon on Same-Sex Marriage

2,000 Evangelical, Orthodox Chaplains Join Catholics in Opposing Pentagon Directive on SSM
No Same-Sex Weddings at West Point's Catholic Chapel, Says Military Archdiocese
Conflict between Pentagon and Catholic military chaplains brews over ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
The (Catholic) Church's Noblest at Ground Zero
More men asking about becoming military chaplains
Catholic Caucus: Fr. Emil Kapaun: The Good Thief
Catholic Military Chaplains: America's Forgotten Heroes (Ecumenical)
Fr. Emil Kapaun Beatification Cause Heads to Rome [US Army Chaplain]
Two US Soldier Priests
Chaplain Groups Ask Military to Create Religious Liberty Protections

Australian Padre helps deployed soldiers tackle life challenges (Former SAS soldier turns chaplain)
Army says chaplain is first killed in action since 1970
Army Chaplain Dies in Afghanastan
With God in Iraq: A Day in the Life of a Military Chaplain
Soldier's Death Led Catholic Priest to Become Chaplain
Mass at National Shrine to honor Servant of God and heroic Navy chaplain
Prison chaplain remembers ("Behind the Walls with the Man Behind the Stole")
"Thanks God... and Thanks Mom" (Senate chaplain recalls his mom's amazing last day on earth)
Priest a wartime legend (Most decorated chaplain in Canadian army history dies at 106)
Catholic Navy chaplain shares story of Iraqi conversion (from 12/04/07)

3 posted on 06/01/2012 7:27:01 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Salvation
prayed to him persistently.
continued to pray to Fr. Kapaun
his parents and family began enlisting their parish to pray to Fr. Kapaun
as prayers to Fr. Kapaun continued

Interesting. Amongst yourselves, you have no problem talking about prayer to saints.

4 posted on 06/01/2012 7:34:57 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson