When Father Emil Kapaun receives the Medal of Honor on Thursday from President Obama, he will be the seventh chaplain to earn the award, the military’s highest for valor. He will become the only chaplain from the Korean War so honored.
Since the Medal of Honor was first authorized by Congress in 1861, roughly 3,500 people have earned the award. Fewer than 100 Medal of Honor winners are still alive.
Here are the other chaplains who have been awarded the Medal of Honor:
John M. Whitehead
Unit: 15th Indiana Infantry
Action: Battle of Stones River, Tenn.
Date: Dec. 31, 1862
Citation: Whitehead went to the front lines under fire and carried several wounded soldiers to the rear.
Francis B. Hall
Unit: 16th New York Infantry
Action: Salem Heights, Va.
Date: May 3, 1863
Citation: Hall braved enemy fire to carry wounded soldiers to safety.
World War II
Lt. Cmdr. Joseph T. O’Callahan
Unit: U.S. Navy
Action: Near Kobe, Japan
Date: March 19, 1945
Citation: O’Callahan was serving on board the USS Franklin when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft. Despite fires and constant explosions, he ministered to the wounded and dying on the aircraft carrier’s flight deck. He also organized and led firefighting crews to help control fires on the ship, which ultimately was saved.
Lt. Vincent R. Capodanno
Unit: 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division
Action: Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam
Date: Sept. 4, 1967
Citation: After hearing that a platoon was in danger of being overrun, Capodanno left the company command post and ran through an open area raked with fire to the besieged platoon. He moved about the battlefield administering last rites and aiding the wounded. Despite his own injuries, he continued to direct the corpsmen to help their wounded comrades. Capodanno was killed while trying to rescue a wounded corpsman.
Major Charles J. Watters
Unit: 173rd Airborne Brigade
Action: Near Dak To Province, Republic of Vietnam
Date: Nov. 19, 1967
Citation: During a fierce battle with the enemy, Watters ignored his own safety and rushed forward to aid the wounded and administer the last rites to the dying. He left the perimeter three times despite enemy fire to assist and evacuate wounded soldiers. Watters was aiding a wounded soldier when he was shot and killed.
Capt. Angelo J. Liteky
Unit: 199th Light Infantry Brigade
Action: Near Phuoc-Lac, Bien Hoa province, Republic of Vietnam
Date: Dec. 6, 1967
Citation: During an engagement with the enemy, Liteky carried more than 20 wounded soldiers to the landing zone for evacuation. He also directed medevac helicopters into and out of the area while under enemy fire and despite being wounded several times.
Source: Mark W. Johnson, Branch Historian, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps; Congressional Medal of Honor Society