My brother the Mad Colonel passed on this video about Chaplain Emil Kapaun, a Roman Catholic priest and US Army chaplain who gave his life to serve and inspire his fellow prisoners in a Chinese prison camp during the Cold War. A real treat to hear a recording of his voice in this video. Father Kapaun was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2013.[
Here’s an excerpt from the Medal of Honor citation, as posted on the US Army website here.
“Once inside the dismal prison camps, Kapaun risked his life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick, and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and their humanity. On at least one occasion, he was brutally punished for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any garments. When the Chinese instituted a mandatory re-education program, Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the instructors. Later, Kapaun openly flouted his captors by conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951.”
It’s interesting how closely Kapaun’s story mirrors that of Padre John Foote, a Canadian Army chaplain captured at Dieppe in 1942. Both men seemed to sense that the conditions of captivity called forth the greatest needs of soldiers for hope and spiritual comfort. Foote was fortunate enough to come home, unlike Kapaun, but both are icons of service and corps pride to chaplains and padres today.