The remains of Father Emil Kapaun, a Kansas native and Catholic priest who died while a prisoner of war, have been identified by military officials.
Sen. Jerry Moran announced Thursday that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency of the Department of Defense has identified Kapaun’s remains. As of Thursday evening, Kapaun was not listed by the agency among the names of people who have recently been accounted for.
“This evening I was notified that the remains of Marion County-native Father Emil Kapaun, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, have been identified,” Moran said in a statement. “Father Kapaun served as an Army Chaplain during WWII and the Korean War, and was taken as a Prisoner of War in 1951. He continued to minister to Americans as a POW before passing away on May 23, 1951.
“In 2011, I introduced legislation to bestow Father Kapaun with the Presidential Medal of Honor, which was awarded in 2013. In 1993, Pope John Paul II declared Father Kapaun a Servant of God, the first step toward sainthood. I am glad that his family has finally been granted closure after Father Kapaun’s selfless service to our nation.”
According to the U.S. Army, Kapaun was a chaplain with the rank of captain in the 8th Cavalry Regiment. During the Battle of Unsan, Kapaun ran from foxhole to foxhole while under fire to provide comfort to soldiers. He helped wounded soldiers to safety, but stayed behind himself in order to care for others. He was then captured by Chinese forces in November 1950.