He wore the cross of the Chaplain branch instead of the crossed rifles
of the infantry, but he was, I think, the best foot soldier I ever knew, and the kindest. His name was Emil Joseph Kapaun, and
he was a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. The men he served in the prison camps of Korea didn't care whether he was
Catholic or Baptist, Lutheran or Presbyterian. To all of them, Catholic, Protestant and Jew alike, and to men who professed no
formal faith at all, he was simply "FATHER," and each of them, when in trouble came, drew courage and hope and strength from
He's dead now, murdered by the Red Chinese, and his body lies in an unmarked grave somewhere along the Yalu. The hundreds of
men who knew and loved him have not forgotten him. I write this so folks at home can know what kind of a man he was, and what
he did for us, and how he died.
The first thing I want to make clear is this, he was a priest of the Church, and a man of great piety, but there was nothing
ethereal about him, nothing soft or unctious or holier than thou. He wore his piety in his heart. Outwardly he was all G.I.,
tough of body, rough of speech sometimes, full of the wry humor of the combat soldier. In a camp where men had to steal or
starve, he was the most accomplished food thief of them all. In a prison whose inmates hated their communist captors with a
bone deep hate, he was the most unbending enemy of Communism, and when they tried to brainwash him, he had the guts to tell
them to their faces that they lied. He pitied the Reds for their delusions, but he preached no doctrine of
D and could be considered only the third American-born saint.
Priest and Soldier
Chaplains must walk a line different from the ordinary officer's. Chaplains should never
forget that they are responsible to two professions, to two chains of command, a line commander and the church that ordained
them. The chaplain is and must be a tightrope walker, aware constantly of balancing the needs of the individual, the church,
and the military. Chaplains are soldiers, but unarmed. Although they go where their troops go, they are in a different
category. For example, if captured and sent to a prisoner-of- war camp, they will be "detained persons," not "prisoners of
war." The laws of war recognize that chaplains, like doctors, have different responsibilities from those of combat troops.
The laws of war provide for the continuation of their work even under prison conditions.
Walking the chaplain's tightrope is, though not without difficulties, well within human powers. Many men and women have, I
believe, done it remarkably well. Certainly, I have never regretted my dual vocation as priest and soldier.
A Concise History of the Chaplain CorpsThe history of the Chaplain Corps traces its beginnings to 28 November 1775 when the
second article of Navy Regulations was adopted. It stated that "the Commanders of the ships of the thirteen United Colonies
are to take care that divine services be performed twice a day on board and a sermon preached on Sundays, unless bad weather
or other extraordinary accidents prevent. Although chaplains were not specifically mentioned in this article, one can imply
that Congress intended that an ordained clergyman be part of ship's company. Later documents support that conclusion.
Reverend Benjamin Balch was the first chaplain known to have served in the Continental Navy, reporting aboard the frigate
BOSTON in October 1778. The number of chaplains by the turn of the century only totaled six, and at that, only two were
A new edition of Naval Regulations dated 25 January 1802 included reference to the duties of a chaplain. "He is to read prayers
at stated periods; perform all funeral ceremonies; perform the duty of schoolmaster instructing the midshipmen and volunteers
in writing, arithmetic, navigation and whatever else they might need to make them proficient; and teach the other youths of the
ship as the captain orders."
Because of their teaching skills, when various "academies" were established aboard the ships in central ports, the chaplains
were called on to be the administrators. Their involvement in these early learning institutions prompted Chaplain George
Jones to begin his campaign for the Naval Academy in 1839. The establishment of the Naval School at Annapolis (later the
United States Naval Academy) in 1845 was due primarily to Chaplain Jones' efforts.
By October 1906, the Chaplain Corps began to come into its own. Steering away from the teaching function, a board of chaplains
appointed by the Secretary of the Navy established guidelines which would require that all newly commissioned chaplains be
graduated of both college and seminary and that such should receive the endorsement of their denominations; and that all
candidates appear before a board of Navy chaplains for their endorsement as to health and other qualifications. They also
recommended that there should be a Chief of Chaplains. The board's recommendations gave birth to the Chaplain Corps as it is
To recount the history of the Chaplain Corps and omit two of its most revered chaplains would be a grave mistake. The bravery
of Chaplains Joseph T. O'Callahan and Vincent Capodanno gives credence to the faith by which we stand. Both were awarded the
Congressional Medal of Honor for their remarkable willingness to perform their duties in the face of the fiercest adversities.
Their spirit is present in the daily contributions the men and women of the Chaplain Corps continue to make to the Navy,
Marine Corps and Coast Guard today.
Lieutenant Margaret G. Kibben, CHC, USNR
History Projects Officer, Chaplain Resource Board
Servant of God
Father Emil Kapaun's
Cause for Sainthood
On Sunday, June 29, 2008, the Opening Ceremony which officially opens
the Cause for Sainthood for Fr. Emil Kapaun was made on Father Kapaun Day held at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in
On June 26, 2009, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, the Roman Postulator for Father Kapaun's cause for canonization arrived in Wichita in
order to interview doctors in relation to alleged miraculous events. Among these, the claims of 20-year-old Chase Kear who
survived a severe head injury last year in part, because he and his family claim, they successfully petitioned Fr. Emil Kapaun
to intercede for them.
Kear, a member of the Hutchinson Community College track team, fell on his head during pole vaulting practice in October 2008
but, it is said, was miraculously healed despite being near death.
The Rev. John Hotze, the judicial vicar for the Diocese of Wichita, and trained in Canon Law, will assist in investigating
Kear's case. Fr. Hotze has spent eight years investigating the proposed sainthood of Kapaun. The Catholic Church has considered
canonizing Fr. Kapaun ever since soldiers were liberated from Korean prisoner-of-war camps in 1953 and retold tales of Kapaun's
heroism and faith. The Wichita diocese has continued receiving reports of miracles involving Fr. Kapaun. He is being
considered for possible designation as a martyr.
On May 7, 2011,
Nick Dellasega collapsed at a Get Busy Living 5K race in Pittsburg, KS (honoring the memory of Dylan Meier).
Due to a series of coincidences, Nick survived, even though he had seemingly died on the scene. His childhood friend, EMT
Micah Ehling, is quoted by the Eagle as saying "I know what a face looks like when the soul leaves the body. And that's what
Nick looked like".[ Some bystanders attribute Nick's survival to the devotion of his cousin, Jonah Dellasega, who fell to his
knees at the scene and prayed to Father Emil Kapaun. In a strange coincidence not reported by the Eagle, Dylan Meier, in whose
memory the 5K was being held, was slated to teach English in Korea at the time of his death.
Skeptics point out that Kapaun's spirit could not possibly have orchestrated the bizarre coincidences that saved Nick's life,
because some of them were set in motion long before Nick collapsed (including a visit by Nick's uncle, Mark, a medical doctor
from Greenville, N.C.). However, believers insist Father Kapaun intervened to save Nick's life; The Eagle reports: "The
coincidences are strange enough and the prayer notable enough that a Catholic church investigator has reported Nick's story
to the Vatican, which happens to have a representative in Wichita again, sizing up Father Emil Kapaun for sainthood."
Kapaun Memorial Chapel, Seoul, South Korea; dedicated November 4, 1953.
Kapaun Religious Retreat House, Oiso, Japan; dedicated December 1954.
Kapaun Barracks and Chapel, United States Military Base, Kaiserslautern, Germany; dedicated June 7, 1955.
Father Kapaun Memorial Technical School, Kwanju, Korea; dedicated Summer 1955.
Chaplain Kapaun Memorial High School, Wichita, Kansas; dedicated May 12, 1957. Later to become Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School,
Bronze Door Panel, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Wichita, Kansas; dedicated February 1997.
Chaplain Kapaun Korean War Memorial Site, Pilsen, Kansas; dedicated June 3, 2001.
Chaplain Kapaun Complex, Fort Riley, Kansas; dedicated 2001, 2002.
Emil Kapaun Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Assembly, Katy, TX.
"The Good Thief", a General Electric Theater television production, starred Spencer Tracy as Father Kapaun.
END OF THE MEMORIAL
GOD BLESS EACH OF YOU
A very special thank you to All Catholic service members of our armed forces, to Judy
McCloskey and Catholics in the Military website. Which is dedicated to strengthening military families and promoting
vocations to the Military Archdiocese. Tonne,
A very special thank you to the following: Photos of Medal of Honor recipients
Courtesy of HomeOfHeroes.com by C. Douglas Sterner please feel free to use
whatever is of value to your own efforts. Thanks for your service to our Nation. U.S. Army Chaplain Center and
School, Fort Jackson, South Carolina courtesy of the U.S.
Army Chaplain Museum for the opening Mass photo. Kimberly T. Pierce, Executive Director of The Chapel of Four Chaplains
A very special thank you to 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Cavalry Division for the use of their video.
Rev. Arthur Tonne, The Story of Chaplain Kapaun,
Patriot Priest of the Korean Conflict. Emporia, KS, 1954.
A very special thank you for the use of your Information and inages.
A very special thank you to Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
USS Oakland Website
in the Military Website
of Four Chaplains Website
Oakland Memorial Website
This Web Page was created by
Paul D. Henriott
Up dated 14 April, 2013