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Obama to Award Posthumous Medal of Honor to Korean War Chaplain

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2013 – President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor posthumously to an Army chaplain for conspicuous gallantry during the Korean War, White House officials announced today.

The ceremony will take place April 11 at the White House.

Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun served with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea, Nov. 1-2, 1950.

When Chinese communist forces viciously attacked friendly elements, Kapaun calmly walked through withering enemy fire 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.

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, Kapaun noticed an injured Chinese officer among the wounded and convinced him to negotiate the safe surrender of the American forces. Shortly after his capture, he pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute a comrade.

The chaplain, a Roman Catholic priest, died May 23, 1951, at a prison camp in Pyoktong, Korea. His nephew, Ray Kapaun, and family members will be on hand for the ceremony.

 

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