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Father Kapaun Medal of Honor good for sainthood path

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March 11, 2013|Melissa Scheffler | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
Courtesy: Raymond Skeehan

(Wichita, Kan.) — Early pictures of Father Emil Kapaun show life near his family's Pilsen farm.  He would grow up to become a hero... and hopeful saint... for many, including Father John Hotze.  Father Hotze took part in the effort in getting Father Kapaun's latest honor.

"It shows that his recognition goes beyond just the Catholic Church,” Father Hotze said.

In the White House announcement, it explains Father Kapaun will receive the Medal of Honor for his "extraordinary heroism" while serving as an army chaplain during the Korean War.

"It talks about him willingly staying behind with the wounded prisoners, knowing full well that they would be captured and knowing full well many of the wounded prisoners were just going to be killed because of their inability to march through the prison camps,” Father Hotze said.

Father Hotze says the fight to get Father Kapaun the Medal of Honor started in 1953, with his fellow prisoners of war.

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"The prisoners came out of the prison camp and started talking to father Kapaun and everything that he had done,” Father Hotze said.

Father Kapaun's nephew, Ray Kapaun of Atlanta, will accept the Medal of Honor.

"It's a huge honor, but it's also pretty humbling when you look back and realize what kind of person Father Kapaun was, how deep his faith was, how devoted he was to the church, how devoted he was to the country,” Ray Kapaun said.

Both Ray Kapaun and Father Hotze hope this high honor helps with the exceptional effort... of making Father Kapaun a saint.

"One of things we try to show for someone to be beatified or canonized as saint, is that there is a cult that follows him.  That there are people that look at this man and see that his life was worthy to be emulated,” Father Hotze said.

Father Kapaun's family will join the president for the Medal of Honor ceremony April 11-th.

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