The people of Pilsen, KS, are all aware of Chaplain Emil Kapaun who will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on April 11, 2013.
You see, Chaplain Kapaun served as an Army Chaplain in both World War II and the Korean War where he was awarded both the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross.
Let me explain, but first…
Kapaun was born and raised in Pilsen, KS. He lived and worked on the family farm which helped provide Kapaun a strong work ethic that went on to serve him well in the military. As one story was told when his mother was ill and not able to milk a cow, Kapaun first attempted to milk the cow but the cow would not produce without his mom. He then dressed up as his mother in a dress and return to find the cow more generous… not recognizing Kapaun not being his mother.
Following college at Conception College in Missouri and then to Kenrick Theological Seminary, Kapaun was ordained in 1940. He then returned to Pilsen to serve at his childhood church.
When World War II started he volunteered into the Army because of his connection with other soldiers along with the desire to serve in the military. He became an Army Chaplain in 1944.
Kapaun had the unique reputation with the other soldiers as being a Chaplain who would always be where the fighting was. He was bold, brave and daring. In fact, often times the soldiers would make bets on how quickly it would take Kapaun to show up wherever the fighting was. You see, he believed that was where the men most needed him most.
And as you may already know, a military ‘chaplain’ is not required to be in battle areas. But Kapaun was known for being found on the front lines of the fighting to care and comfort his fellow soldiers.
There was an article once written about Kapaun in Army Magazine that mentioned that he always seemed to be in the line of fire, moving from fox hole to fox hole to provide comfort to soldiers in their time of need. Once, when enemy fire damaged Kapaun’s jeep, he jumped out and found an abandoned bicycle and rode it from one front line to the other. Again, all to be there for his fellow soldiers.
Then in August of 1950, Kapaun received the Bronze Star for going through enemy fire to drag wounded soldiers to safety.
Kapaun wouldn’t just serve on the front lines during battle. He naturally counseled men on their marital problems and always kept a sense of humor and attempted to keep moral high.
In conclusion, Kapuan teaches us the value of serving our fellow men and women, in battle or not. To give generously without regard to himself even in times of great difficulty. What an awesome example for all of us to follow… foxhole or not.