More than 60 years after he died in a Korean War prison camp, Army chaplain Father Emil Kapaun this week received the nation’s highest military award. At an emotional White House ceremony, President Obama presented Kapaun’s nephew a posthumous Medal of Honor for the chaplain’s acts of bravery on the battlefield and in a POW camp. The Roman Catholic priest was known as “the shepherd in combat boots.” He put his own life at risk to rescue wounded Americans and refused to leave them when his regiment was surrounded by Chinese soldiers. He negotiated their safe surrender and continued tending his flock amid terrible conditions in a prison camp. Seven months later, Kapaun died from an untreated illness. His remains are in an unmarked grave in North Korea. The Vatican has declared Kapaun a “servant of God” and opened an investigation into whether he should be recognized as a saint.
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