FORT HOOD — To honor the former 1st Cavalry Division soldier who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Thursday, the division’s museum set up a temporary exhibit of the life and work of Capt. Emil Kapaun.
The Catholic chaplain who served with the 8th Cavalry Regiment during the Korean War also was added to the museum’s Medal of Honor hallway, where his portrait hangs with the 38 other members of the division to earn the military’s highest honor.
“It’s really fine his service has been recognized and that he’s joined the ranks of other awardees,” said Jack Dugan, exhibit specialist with the museum.
To create the temporary exhibit of Kapaun, Dugan was able to find photos of the chaplain from age 3 months in Kansas to his service in Korea. In one, Kapaun is shown receiving his first communion. One photo shows the priest celebrating Mass with the hood of a Jeep serving as a makeshift altar. Another shows him carrying wounded troops. In most, he is holding a pipe.
“I was trying to show his involvement with humanity and that he was a soldier’s chaplain,” Dugan said.
The exhibit also features a letter written by Kapaun to a bishop.
“I am glad to be with the soldiers in time of need,” he wrote. “So far, I have been right on the front lines giving absolution and Extreme Unction to the dying. I had no chance to change clothes and my uniform got all bloody. I’ve got a clean one now and I hope it will not be stained with blood.”
Division commander Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi was able to attend the ceremony in Washington, D.C. In a statement, he said it’s an honor to follow in Kapaun’s footsteps.
“Chaplain Kapaun represents everything good that is the American soldier — the sacrifice, the dedication and most importantly, in this case, the humanity that we demonstrate every day in what we do.”
The exhibit is on display at the museum, Building 2218 at the intersection of 56th Street and 761st Tank Battalion Avenue, through June. The museum is open daily. For more information, call (254) 287-3626.