the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Obama to Award Medal of Honor

On April 11, President Barack Obama will award Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.

Chaplain Kapaun will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his extraordinary heroism while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea and as a prisoner of war from November 1-2, 1950.

When Chinese Communist Forces viciously attacked friendly elements, Chaplain Kapaun calmly walked through withering enemy fire in order to provide comfort and medical aid to his comrades.  When they found themselves surrounded by the enemy, the able-bodied men were ordered to evacuate.  Chaplain Kapaun, fully aware of his certain capture, elected to stay behind with the wounded.  As hand-to-hand combat ensued, he continued to make rounds.  As enemy forces approached the American position, Chaplain Kapaun noticed an injured Chinese officer amongst the wounded and convinced him to negotiate the safe surrender of the American forces.  Shortly after his capture, Chaplain Kapaun bravely pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute a comrade, thus saving a life and inspiring all those present to remain and fight the enemy until captured. 

Chaplain Kapaun’s nephew, Ray Kapaun, and family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service and sacrifice.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

THE MEDAL OF HONOR:

The Medal of Honor is awarded to a member of the Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while:

  • engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
  • engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
  • serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.