Medal of Honor winners don’t often have clerical collars. But it was heroism and self-sacrifice of the highest order that was acclaimed at the White House this month when the Rev. Emil J. Kapaun, an Army chaplain who died in the Korean War, was posthumously awarded the military’s highest decoration for valor.
Kapaun was serving with the Third Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during the Battle of Unsan in November 1950. Moving from foxhole to foxhole, the chaplain braved enemy fire to comfort soldiers and pull the wounded to safety. After a forced march brought Kapaun to a North Korean prisoner-of-war camp, he repeatedly risked his life by sneaking out to forage for food, offering his clothes to men who were freezing to death, and flouting the Communist Chinese guards by conducting religious services.