1st Cavalry Division Chaplain To Receive Posthumous Medal of Honor

A 1st Cavalry Division chaplain who died in a POW camp after staying behind to help wounded troops during the Korean War will be awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for heroism.

In this grainy photo provided by Fort Hood, Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun (right), former chaplain with Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, helps another Soldier carry an exhausted Troop off the battlefield early in the Korean War. (Fort Hood photo)

FORT HOOD (March 11, 2013)--Capt. Emil J. Kapaun, a 1st Cavalry Division chaplain who ministered and provided medical help to wounded soldiers under heavy fire during the Korean War will be awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, the White House said Monday.

Kapaun, a Roman Catholic priest, was serving with the division’s 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment in November 1950 during a battle with communist forces.

The troops were ordered to attempt to break through enemy lines, but Kapaun remained behind to help the wounded even though he knew he would be captured.

He and other POWs were forced to walk 85 miles through snow and ice to Pyoktong, North Korea and he continued to assist the wounded during the ordeal.

During the seven months he was held captive before he died of a blood clot in a POW camp hospital, he sneaked around to pray with and provide support to other prisoners and at night slipped out into the countryside with other soldiers to gather firewood and food, earning the nickname the “Good Thief.”

“Father Emil Kapaun is an American hero who embodies the Medal of Honor’s ideals as our nation’s highest award for military service,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, the commanding general of Fort Hood’s 1st Cavalry Division.

“He distinguished himself with valor before his capture and continued to care for his fellow soldiers at a great risk to himself while interned in a Prisoner of War Camp,” he said.

“Although Father Kapaun did not survive to be liberated along with hundreds of the prisoners he ministered to and assisted, his faith, honor and selfless devotion to duty reflects the finest tradition of the U.S. Army, the 1st Cavalry Division and the Army Chaplain Corps."

Kapaun was based at Fort Bliss in El Paso before leaving for Korea.

Members of Kapaun’s family will attend the presentation ceremony on April 11.

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