WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts and U.S. Senator Jerry Moran today introduced a bill to award Father Emil Kapaun, a Kansas war hero, the Medal of Honor for acts of valor in the Korean War. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Father Kapaun was by all accounts an American hero,” Senator Roberts said. “Taken prisoner at the Battle of Unsan, Father Kapaun served his soldiers by escaping to steal food from nearby farms to bring back to starving prisoners. He cared for sick soldiers, washed them, shared his food with them, and inspired them with his unfailing faith and acts of generosity until his death as a prisoner in May 1951. His selfless actions are certainly deserving of the Medal of Honor.”
“Father Kapaun’s courageous actions in the battlefields of the Korean War saved countless lives when he ran under enemy fire to rescue wounded American soldiers. His selfless acts uplifted the spirits of American GIs when he gave away his food and clothing and cared for the sick who were suffering alongside him in prison camps. When all else looked hopeless, the Father rallied men around him to persevere in the midst of their suffering. This good man distinguished himself by going above and beyond the call of duty and risking his life for the sake of others. In doing so, he is more than deserving of this distinguished award,” Senator Moran said.
Father Kapaun was born in Pilsen, Kansas, in 1916. During the Korean War, then Captain Kapaun 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. In 2009, former Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) called for a review of Father Kapaun’s record. Former Secretary of the Army Peter Geren confirmed that his actions in combat operations and as a prisoner of war in Korea warrant award of the Medal of Honor.
The bill authorizes and requests the posthumous Medal of Honor. The Department of Defense must concur with the Senior Army Decorations Board’s determination and convey approval to the Committees on Armed Services in the Senate and the House. It must then be approved by both chambers and signed into law.
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, a former Marine, is a strong advocate for military veterans, and men and women in uniform and their families.