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Another story behind the photo

Frank Noel, a Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer and former photographer at The Wichita Eagle, was among the men imprisoned with Father Emil Kapaun in North Korea.

Stories of Father Emil Kapaun

The following are stories about Father Emil Kapaun or the men who knew him in Korea. These were gathered in interviews with former POWs, men who served with Kapaun on the battlefield and from archival material at the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. They were not included in the print series “The Miracle of Father Kapaun” because of space constraints.

Father Emil Kapaun: POWs call him 'a hero and a saint'

The legend of Father Kapaun and the quest to elevate him to sainthood began in September 1953 as soon as Communist guards released prisoners at the end of the Korean War.


Taken from a number of sermons written by Father Emil Kapaun when he was a young parish priest in Pilsen, Kan.

Father Emil Kapaun forgives guards, welcomes death

The POWs in the Pyoktong prison camp began a cloaked and daring effort to save Emil Kapaun’s life. On a rise above them stood the remains of a Buddhist monastery; the guards called it a hospital, but POWs called it "The Death House." The Chinese sometimes killed prisoners by isolating them there from food and help. The POWs knew that’s where Kapaun might end up.

Father Emil Kapaun: Leads camp prisoners in quiet acts of defiance

At sunrise on Easter Sunday, March 25, 1951, Father Emil Kapaun startled POWs by donning his purple priest’s stole and openly carrying a Catholic prayer missal, borrowed from Ralph Nardella.

Father Emil Kapaun: As hundreds die, Kapaun rallies the POWs

By February 1951 the Allied prisoners at Pyoktong, North Korea, were dying so fast on ground frozen so solid that unburied bodies lay in stacks three to four feet high, 30 to 40 yards long. Men hoarded food or stole it from the weak, and left sick men to die in their own defecation.

Father Emil Kapaun: In icy POW camps, Kapaun shares faith, provisions

Three weeks after their capture, after 75 miles of marching, the starving survivors of the 8th Cavalry and 19th Infantry straggled into a mud-hut village called Pyoktong, on the banks of the Yalu River, two miles from Manchuria.

Father Emil Kapaun: Through Death March, Father Kapaun perseveres and inspires

Father Emil Kapaun was considered an unusual man even before the 8th Cavalry’s 3rd Battalion was overrun at Unsan.

Father Emil Kapaun: In Korea, Kapaun saves dozens during Chinese attack

Nov. 1 is All Saints Day on the Catholic calendar. On that day in North Korea in 1950, Father Emil Kapaun celebrated four Masses for soldiers in the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment and went to bed early in his pup tent south of the village of Unsan.

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