Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

This post is a bit late, (as are all posts the last 9 months), but Grandpa T does a Memorial Day presentation to Boy Scout Troop #27 each year. Here is the post from 2013.

1st Cavalry Division
Their paths didn't cross in Korea that winter of 1950 but their destinies did. Sixty-three years later, they did again in Washington D.C. Father Emil Kapaun was the son of a Kansas farmer. He served as Chaplain in WWII and rejoined the Army in the late 1940's. With the North Korean invasion of the South in June of 1950, Father Kapaun found himself serving with the 1st Cavalry Division when it was attached by the Red Chinese Army. He ignored the chance to escape and rescued the wounded. When the unit could fight no more, Chaplain Kapaun, who was tending to a wounded Red Chinese officer convinced the officer to negotiate a surrender. The Chinese soldiers were about to kill the wounded Americans when the Chaplain placed himself between a wounded American and a bayonet wielding enemy soldier. He accompanied the captives to a POW camp deep in North Korea. During their captivity, Fr. Kapaun became known as "the Good Theif", for the food he stole from the guards to feed the starving prisoners. He gave up his own food and ministered to the sick. He was singled out for punishment many times for his efforts and for his faith. He was tied up naked by his captors and left outside overnight in below zero temperatures.
Chaplain Emil Kapaun
He refused all attempts at brainwashing and urged his fellow POW's to keep their faith in God and in the United States. Against regulations he led an Easter Sunrise Mass in 1951 using a missal a solder had hidden from the guards and a crucifix made from sticks. Punished again, father Kapaun developed dysentery, a blood clot in his leg and finally pneumonia, which killed him. His last words to his men were to keep their faith. his last words to God where to forgive his captors for they knew not what they were doing. 

7th Infantry Division
Lt. Col Don Carlos Faith was also a WWII re-tred. Born in Washington, Indiana he was denied admittance to West Point because fo his health. After being rejected for enlistment he sought and received a waiver and was commissioned a Lieutenant through OCS in 1942. He served with the 82nd Airborne Division, throughout WWII. The outbreak of the Korean War found him on occupation duty in Japan. His unit was immediately shipped to Korea and by November 1950 found themselves in the Chosin Reservoir near the Chinese borer. When China entered the war, all units in the area including Faith's 7th Division were cut off and surrounded by superior forces. Whi the death of the Regimental commander, Don Faith found himself in command. For five days without sleep in a time where 90% of his troops became casualties, Col. Faith personally led attack after attack against the enemy in sub-zero temperatures. He seemed, as his men later stated, to be everywhere. 

Lt. Col Don Carlos Faith Jr.

His mission was to keep the only road to safety open and he succeeded. on 1 December Col. Faith was wounded by a grenade. The next day the truck he was being evacuated in was ambushed and he was killed. His body was not recovered. 

63 years later the legend's of these two men crossed paths in Washington. On April 10th 2013, The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Chaplain Captain Emil Joseph Kapaun for actions above and beyond the call of duty. The medal was presented to his nephew. A week later, the recently identified body of Lt. Col. Don Faith, awarded the Medal of Honor in 1951 was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. The flag draping his coffin was presented to Barbara Boyles, her three children and two grandchildren. Barbara, Don Faith's only child was four years old when her father died. 

Father Kapaun was recently declared a Servant of God by the Catholic Church, the first step on the road to being raised to Sainthood.

No comments:

Post a Comment