Obama-Korean War hero

By Lee Chi-dong

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Barack Obama plans to award a posthumous medal next month to a U.S. Army chaplain known for his sacrifice during the 1950-53 Korean War, the White House said Monday.

The ceremony for Capt. Emil J. Kapaun will take place on Apri 11 at the presidential office, attended by his family, it added.

"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," the White House said in a press release.

Kapaun was serving with a U.S. Army batallion during combat operations in Wonsan, South Hamgyeong Province, which is now in North Korea.

As a prisoner himself, he also sacrificed himself to help other prisoners and the wounded.

"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," according to the White House. "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."

Kapaun died in May 1951 at the prison camp. He was buried in a mass grave near the Yalu River between North Korea and China.

When he was in a seminary in 1956, South Korean Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk of the Roman Catholic Church published a book on Kapaun's life.

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