Remains of Korean War chaplain, Kansas native identified after 70 years

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(Photo courtesy of Fort Riley)

The remains of former Pilsen, Kansas, resident, Korean War Medal of Honor recipient and Army chaplain Capt. Emil Joseph Kapaun have been identified.

Kapaun’s remains were accounted for in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, through Phase Two of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s Korean War Disinterment Project.

After Kapaun died while in a North Korean prison camp in 1951, POWs buried his body in the encampment’s cemetery. His body was returned to the United States following the 1953 armistice, but would remain unidentified until recently.

“Chaplain Emil Kapaun’s heroism and sacrifice inspire Soldiers of the First Infantry Division, myself included. He was an outstanding soldier and chaplain,” Maj. Gen. D.A. Sims, Fort Riley and 1st Infantry Division, said.

Kapaun served as a chaplain in the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during the Korean War. He would go on to be declared a Servant of God by Pope John Paul II, the first step toward canonization in the Catholic Church, in 1993 and a Medal of Honor recipient in 2013.

Fort Riley’s Kapaun Chapel, originally known as Custer Hill Chapel, was dedicated to the Kansas native in 2001.

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