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Obama Awards Highest US Military Honor to Korean War Chaplain

  • VOA News

US President Barack Obama during a ceremony to present Medal of Honor posthumously to Ray Kapaun (L), the nephew of U.S. Army Chaplain (Captain) Emil Kapaun, April 11, 2013

US President Barack Obama during a ceremony to present Medal of Honor posthumously to Ray Kapaun (L), the nephew of U.S. Army Chaplain (Captain) Emil Kapaun, April 11, 2013

President Barack Obama has posthumously awarded the United States' highest military honor to a Roman Catholic Army chaplain who sacrificed almost everything he had for his fellow prisoners of war in Korea.

Reverend Emil Kapaun died in a North Korean POW camp in 1951.

Those who survived lobbied for 60 years for him to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Fellow soldiers, some of whom attended Thursday's White House ceremony, frequently spoke of how Kapaun risked his life to steal grains of food for starving prisoners. One soldier says Kapaun traded his watch for a blanket which he cut into socks for freezing prisoners.

Another speaks of how, when an enemy soldier was standing over him with a rifle pointed in his face, Kapaun approached them, pushed the gun aside, picked up the wounded soldier and carried him to safety.

Even when he was deathly ill, Kapun continued to conduct Mass, sacrifice, and administer aid to his fellow soldiers.
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