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The Army Community Service is just one in a Complex Area having Captain Kapauns name attached. Read the history behind this great military serviceman to understand why his name is honored.
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Patriot priest immortalized in bronze
FORT RILEY, Kansas. (Army News Service, June 19, 2001) -A statue honoring a Korean War chaplain was dedicated June 3 in Pilsen, Kansas.
Father Paul Oborny and Eugene Kapaun unveiled the statue of Capt. Emil J. Kapaun, an ordained Catholic priest who died while imprisoned in a North Korean war camp in Pyoktong 50 years ago. The life-sized statue of Kapaun depicts him carrying a wounded soldier.
Maj. Gen. Robert J. St. Onge Jr., commanding general, 24th Infantry Division (Mech.) and Fort Riley, Kan., spoke about Kapaun to an estimated crowd of 1,000 gathered for the dedication ceremony.
"I was more inspired by his life than by any other hero I've known or studied," St. Onge said about Kapaun. "He was a true shepherd for his soldier flock, a true pastor for his unit and his parish of prisoners."
St. Onge told the people of Pilsen and the Kapaun family that, in giving up Kapaun for military service, they made a sacrifice that does not go unnoticed.
"You gave the Army and the nation your son, and he made us proud," he said.
Kapaun served as a chaplain during World War II and then rejoined the Army in 1948. Two years later in Korea he was taken a prisoner of war. He died May 6, 1951, at age 35 while tending to others in a prison camp hospital.
Just before his capture on Nov. 2, 1950, Kapaun carried a wounded soldier by the name of Herbert Miller out of battle.
"Father Kapaun saved my life," said Miller, who drove from Pulaski, N.Y., for the dedication. "I was wounded with a broken ankle and the North Koreans were going to shoot me. He brushed them aside, reached down and picked me up and carried me. How he found the strength, I'll never know. He was the bravest man I ever saw."
The statue was placed at the town's St. John Nepomucene Church where the U.S. flag and the 50th anniversary flag of the Korean War fly. The statue's sculptor, Daniel Hunt, an assistant professor at Kansas State University, based the work on photographs of Kapaun aiding fellow soldiers.
Kapaun was born in Pilsen in 1916. By 1940, at age 24, he was an ordained priest leading his first Mass. In 1944, during World War II, he volunteered to serve as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. He served during the war in the India-Burma Theatre.
In the summer of 1950, war broke out in Korea and Kapaun was assigned to the front lines with 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
"There's no greater test of a chaplain's faith than when he is called to minister on the front lines of combat...as they tend to the wounded, the dying, the dead," said Lt. Col. Lawrence M. Barry, chaplain of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. He also talked at the dedication ceremony.
Bill McCalin survived years in that prison camp and he remembered Kapaun, his floor mate, as a man who brought hope to an otherwise dire situation.
"The survivors of that POW experience have had richer lives because of their association with Father Kapaun," McCalin told the crowd who came for the Mass and the statue dedication. "Now you'll keep his memory alive so future generations can learn of his bravery and the sacrifices he made both for his faith and his nation."
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Last Updated: 04/29/2013 3:58 PM