Remains Identified as Army Chaplain, Medal of Honor Recipient Who Died as POW in North Korea

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Emil Kapaun
Roman Catholic Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun, United States Army recipient of the Medal of Honor. (Wikipedia)

The remains of Father Emil Kapaun, a Kansas native and Catholic priest who died while a prisoner of war, have been identified by military officials.

Sen. Jerry Moran announced Thursday that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency of the Department of Defense has identified Kapaun's remains. As of Thursday evening, Kapaun was not listed by the agency among the names of people who have recently been accounted for.

"This evening I was notified that the remains of Marion County-native Father Emil Kapaun, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, have been identified," Moran said in a statement. "Father Kapaun served as an Army Chaplain during WWII and the Korean War, and was taken as a Prisoner of War in 1951. He continued to minister to Americans as a POW before passing away on May 23, 1951.

"In 2011, I introduced legislation to bestow Father Kapaun with the Presidential Medal of Honor, which was awarded in 2013. In 1993, Pope John Paul II declared Father Kapaun a Servant of God, the first step toward sainthood. I am glad that his family has finally been granted closure after Father Kapaun's selfless service to our nation."

According to the U.S. Army, Kapaun was a chaplain with the rank of captain in the 8th Cavalry Regiment. During the Battle of Unsan, Kapaun ran from foxhole to foxhole while under fire to provide comfort to soldiers. He helped wounded soldiers to safety, but stayed behind himself in order to care for others. He was then captured by Chinese forces in November 1950.

While in captivity, Kapaun continued to care for his fellow soldiers while resisting his captors, including conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951. He died alone in a prison camp hospital about two months later.

An annual 60-mile pilgrimage honoring Kapaun, organized by the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, is scheduled for June 3-6 this year. He is the namesake of Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School in Wichita. The Diocese is championing Kapaun's cause for sainthood.

This article is written by Jason Tidd from The Wichita Eagle and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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