WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate has approved the Defense Authorization Act of 2012 with an amendment introduced by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and co-sponsored by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to award the Medal of Honor to Chaplain Emil Kapaun, a Kansas war hero.
“Father Kapaun inspired many with his unshakable faith. His story is an inspiration to all of us of what it means to be a true hero,” said Roberts. “He is well-deserving of the Medal of Honor and I am pleased that with the inclusion of this provision, we’ve taken a huge step forward towards finally recognizing Father Kapaun’s countless acts of heroism on behalf of his fellow soldiers."
“Father Kapaun distinguished himself by going above and beyond the call of duty in risking his life for the sake of others,” said Moran. “When all else looked hopeless, Father Kapaun uplifted the spirits of his fellow soldiers and helped them persevere in spite of great suffering. Father Kapaun is more than deserving of this distinguished award and I am hopeful he will receive his long-overdue recognition."
The bill now goes to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate passed versions of the bill. The conference report must then be approved by both the Senate and the House before it goes to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
The amendment would authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor posthumously to Father Kapaun.
Earlier this year, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) offered similar legislation in the House and also included an identical provision in the House passed 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. The Department of Defense has confirmed its support for the legislation in response to numerous letters sent by the Kansas delegation
Father Kapaun was born in Pilsen, Kansas in 1916 and served as a Catholic priest before volunteering for the Army. During the Korean War, he served as a chaplain of the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the First Army Division. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in the Battle of Unsan, where he was taken prisoner and fellow soldiers say he saved hundreds of lives on the battlefield and in prison camps. He escaped to steal food from nearby farms to bring back to starving prisoners, and cared for the sick and injured. He died as a prisoner in May 1951.