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Army chaplain gets posthumous Medal of Honor

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 12, 2013 at 12:41 am •  Published: April 12, 2013
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He died on May 23, 1951, at age 35, after six months in captivity.

The president said Kapaun showed that a touch of the divine exists even in hellish situations.

"Father Kapaun's life, I think, is a testimony to the human spirit, the power of faith, and reminds us of the good that we can do each and every day regardless of the most difficult of circumstances," Obama said.

The chaplain's nephew, Ray Kapaun, his face flush with emotion, accepted the medal from Obama on his uncle's behalf. Emil Kapaun's parents and his only sibling, a brother, are deceased.

"I don't think the enormity of what occurred today will actually hit me until my wife and I are heading home from this experience," Ray Kapaun, 56, said afterward. "A country boy from a small town in Kansas just received the nation's highest award for valor. That boy was my uncle."

He gave credit to fellow POWs who spent years lobbying for the Medal of Honor for the uncle he came to know only through stories others told.

"I didn't know him. We never met," Ray Kapaun said. "If not for these men I may have not had such a lifelong personal relationship with my uncle."

He said the medal would be given to Pilsen, Kan., where Emil Kapaun's former parish is located.

A separate effort also is underway seeking another honor for Kapaun: sainthood.

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AP National Writer Sharon Cohen contributed to this report.

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