WASHINGTON — President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to relatives of Father Emil Kapaun on Thursday, calling the priest from Pilsen, Kan., “an American soldier who didn’t fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all . a love for his brothers so pure that he was willing to die so they might live.”
More than 60 people attended the White House ceremony. Obama gave the medal to Ray Kapaun, one of Emil Kapaun’s nephews.
Emil Kapaun, who died in May 1951 in a North Korean prisoner of war camp, was honored for his actions on Nov. 1 and 2, 1950, at the battle of Unsan, where his 8th Cavalry regiment was overrun by Chinese forces. He helped aid those wounded in battle with no regard for his own safety.
Witnesses said Kapaun ran 200 to 300 yards outside a shrinking defensive perimeter to rescue wounded American soldiers despite fierce enemy fire.
Kapaun also stayed behind and let himself be captured by Chinese forces to care for wounded American soldiers. He was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions, the Army’s second-highest military honor. That was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.