FORT HOOD (April 5, 2013)--A former Army chaplain will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House on Thursday.
Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Joseph Kapaun served with Headquarters Company, 8th Cav. in the Korean War where he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) in 1951.
The Medal of Honor is an upgrade of the DSC.
According to a Fort Hood press release, at dusk on November 2, 1950, after troops were attacked by hostile forces, Chaplain Kapaun stayed behind to offer medical treatment and render religious rites to those left behind.
He was captured and, along with other POWs, was forced to walk more than 85 miles to the city of Pyoktong, North Korea through snow and ice.
The walk was later termed the “Death March.”
While being held captive, Kapaun assisted the wounded and snuck around to more than 200 men to say prayers and give support, including secretly moving able-bodied soldiers to the countryside, while avoiding guards, to get food and firewood to help keep the prisoners alive.
The “good thief” suffered a blood clot and died May 23, 1951, nearly 7 months after being captured.
“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,” 1st Cavalry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi said.