Kansas Honors War Hero: Governor Laura Kelly Signs Senate Bill 431 to Establish Memorial for Medal of Honor Recipient, Father Emil Kapaun

By Trish Svoboda

Today, March 22, Senate Bill 431 was enacted into law by Governor Laura Kelly. This legislation mandates the Capitol Preservation Committee to establish a memorial in tribute to Chaplain (Captain) Emil Joesph Kapaun. A native of Pilsen, Kansas, Kapaun was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his service in the Korean War.

“Father Emil Kapaun was known for his selfless, dedicated service and providing care to all, regardless of their religion or beliefs,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I am proud to honor his legacy and sacrifices for our country by signing this bipartisan bill.”

Father Kapaun holds the distinction of being the most decorated chaplain in the history of the United States Army. His service began as a Roman Catholic priest in the Wichita Diocese, after which he was deployed to serve in both World War II and the Korean War. Despite the danger, he refused to abandon the wounded during the Battle of Unsan, leading to his capture. He met his end as a prisoner of war in North Korea.

“It is an honor to co-sponsor Senate Bill 431 to commemorate our Kansas hero, Father Kapaun,” said Kansas State Senator Elaine Bowers, District 36. “As a member of the Capitol Preservation Committee, I pledge to see this memorial through the final stage of approval and permanent, prominent placement in the Statehouse.”

Previously, Governor Kelly paid tribute to Father Kapaun by declaring September 29, 2021, as Father Emil Kapaun Day in Kansas. This significant date commemorates the identification and return of his remains to Wichita for their final rest.

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