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April 11, 2013

Medal of Honor Recipient Army Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun

This was linked in the sidebar but I think deserves a nod here. This MOH was awarded posthumously today, for his actions and courage during the battle of Unsan, Korean War, November 1950.

"As Chinese Communist forces encircled (3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry during the battle of Unsan,) Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under enemy direct fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. When the Chinese commandos attacked the battalion command post, Kapaun and other members of the headquarters withdrew 500 meters across a nearby river, but Kapaun returned to help the wounded, gathering approximately 30 injured men into the relative protection of a Korean dugout."

The narrative goes on to describe how the battalion became entirely surrounded by enemy forces. It recounts how Kapaun spent the next day, Nov. 2, repeatedly rescuing the wounded from "no-man's land outside the perimeter."

As the battalion's position became hopeless, "Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded." At dusk, he made his way back to the dugout.

"Among the injured Americans was a wounded Chinese officer," it continues. "As Chinese infantry closed in on their position, Kapaun convinced him to negotiate for the safety of the injured Americans."

The narrative then describes how, after Kapaun's capture, he intervened to save the life of a fellow Soldier who was "lying in a nearby ditch with a broken ankle and other injuries. As Chinese soldiers prepared to execute" the Soldier, "Kapaun risked his own life by pushing the Chinese soldier aside" thereby saving the Soldier's life.

He marched north to a POW camp with his fellow soldiers, and died there the next May.

via xbradtc

The full citation is below.


The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to

Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun
United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea, from November 1-2, 1950. On November 1, as 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 and rescue friendly wounded from no-man's land. Though the Americans successfully repelled the assault, they found themselves surrounded by the enemy. Facing annihilation, the able-bodied men were ordered to evacuate. However, Chaplain Kapaun, fully aware of his certain capture, elected to stay behind with the wounded. After the enemy succeeded in breaking through the defense in the early morning hours of November 2, Chaplain Kapaun continually made rounds, as hand-to-hand combat ensued. As Chinese Communist 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, with complete disregard for his personal safety and unwavering resolve, bravely pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute Sergeant First Class Herbert A. Miller. Not only did Chaplain Kapaun's gallantry save the life of Sergeant Miller, but also his unparalleled courage and leadership inspired all those present, including those who might have otherwise fled in panic, to remain and fight the enemy until captured. Chaplain Kapaun's extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the United States Army.

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posted by Dave In Texas at 09:49 PM

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