Hey, remember the Korean War? Apparently most of us don't, since it's now often called "the forgotten war," and you don't even see M*A*S*H reruns any more. But forgotten war or not, Captain Emil Kapaun deserves to be famous, damn it. And apparently some in the Catholic church agree, since they want to make the man a saint.
Kapaun had already won a Bronze Star for going out into gunfire to retrieve wounded soldiers by the time the Battle of Unsan happened in 1950. Since the battle was basically about the Chinese surprising and stomping the U.N. army, the order of the day for Kapaun's unit was "RUN!" Kapaun instead chose the option of walking through gunfire to provide medical aid and comfort to the dying, as he tended to do. Normal Kapaun stuff so far.
Acme, via The Army
"Bite me, bullets."
But then the Chinese overran the position ... and Kapaun continued to provide aid to his comrades. The enemy was mopping up, his own army was gone, and he just didn't give a shit -- there were still wounded behind. When Kapaun saw one Herbert Miller about to be shot in the head by an enemy soldier (because he was wounded), he ran over, unarmed, and pushed the attacking soldier's gun away. He picked up Miller and kept carrying him as the Chinese soldiers ordered the survivors on a forced march that would last 75 freaking miles.
Throughout the march, other POWs keeled over from their wounds, and Kapaun had to prop them up and support them to prevent them from being shot or left behind to die.
He also kept their bicycles in good working order.
Things got even worse once they arrived at the POW camp, but Kapaun didn't let up. Through the winter, soldiers were dying from cold, and Kapaun would provide clothing. When other soldiers were wounded, he continued tending them. When his guards abused him to try to dissuade him from holding religious services, he just took punishments that included being left out in the cold or beaten, and kept right at it until guards gave up trying to stop him. As soldiers starved, he would sneak out of camp and go steal some grain, garnering the nickname "the good thief."
And here's where we find out that confronting violence with nonviolence doesn't always have a happy ending -- that's why most of us don't do it. Kapaun was eventually taken to "the hospital," which the other prisoners knew meant that he was going to die. But he sure as hell lived in the memories of the hundreds of other soldiers he saved -- Kapaun earned a posthumous Medal of Honor in 2013, and there is a campaign to get him sainthood. On top of that, there's the fact that he wins the "awesomest looking guy giving a sermon" award for this photo of him preachin' it from a Jeep:
You can't tell, but the Jeep is going 70 miles an hour -- he just screamed blessings at people as he flew past.
Dustin Koski also wrote this article about Penn Jillette hurting himself in awesome ways. Sam can be reached on Facebook and Twitter. Also a big thank you to Suckerfish for helping us find entries.
For more "peaceful" asskickers, check out The 5 Biggest Badass Popes and 5 Nuns Who Could Kick Your Ass.