A young soldier scurried up an exposed hill toward the sounds of fighting, leaving a military chaplain in his wake and stopping only to scoop up some ammunition.
Halfway there and he can hear the all out hell he's heading into ... the Korean War ... suddenly he turns around and there's the chaplain, right behind him, a pipe sticking out of his mouth and puffing calmly, crate of ammo in his arms.
"'Father, you really shouldn't be doing this,' I told him," an 87 year-old Robert Wood recounted to the Army News Service (ANS).
Capt. Emil J. Kapaun, an Army Chaplain, puffed a smoky refusal.
Minutes later, as Wood recalls, they're both charging up a hill under withering enemy gunfire. So bad so that Wood dove into a ditch to avoid being killed. Looking back at Kapuan, he noticed the man puffing on a pipe that had its end blown clear off.
They both had a nervous chuckle at that.
Kapuan survived that day. He survived another day when a mine blew up his jeep. Instead he picked up an old bike, and the troops would catch him riding it toward the fighting.
"We all saw him out in front and we all said to one another, 'there goes Father Kapaun again, heading toward the sound of the guns,'" Wood told ANS.
The chaps would regularly brave gunfire to save or tend to wounded.
Wood recalled the very end, when they were "scattered over hell's half acre in poor positions" and eventually overrun by 30,000 Chinese. Kapuan chose to stay with all the wounded when the other troops fled.
He even persuaded a wounded Chinese soldier to try and keep as many men from being killed as possible. Then, upon capture, he pushed one of the enemy out of the way and dove in front of an impending execution, pleading for the man's life.
Later, at the POW camp, the soldiers remembered him for always trying to keep their spirits up, and for tending to the wounded. He would even steal away at night to bordering villages to get bags of rice and bring them back, an action that would have meant instant death if caught.
Eventually the Chaplain's leg became infected, too swollen to walk on, and fellow soldiers brought him a stick to use as a cane. He would hobble around the camp, treating the sickly. Without specifics, the diseases in the camp were of many different ghastly varieties.
Still he aided them, until he became too sick himself. Wood recalled having tears in his eyes as he carried the chaps to the hospital, what he called effectively a "death house."
President Barack Obama announced that upon further review, Kapuan's actions prior to capture had earned him the Medal of Honor. The award will go to his family members April 11.
The Vatican named Kapuan a "Servant of God" in 1993. He's currently in consideration for sainthood.
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