Korean War chaplain was ‘the greatest man I ever knew’

2013-04-09T08:00:00Z Korean War chaplain was ‘the greatest man I ever knew’ The Times and Democrat
April 09, 2013 8:00 am

The writer of this letter is William H. Funchess, a Rowesville native and 1944 graduate of Orangeburg High School who is still haunted by his experience in “The Forgotten War.’’ The author of a book about being a prisoner of war in the hands of the Chinese, Funchess has spoken out often about the physical and mental torture inflicted upon him and other Americans in the Korean War.

I am so proud the Rev. Emil Kapaun will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic services on the battlefield and in the POW camps of North Korea. He was the greatest man I ever knew.

Father Kapaun melted snow and gave me my first drink of water three months after my capture in Korea. He also fulfilled physical and spiritual needs of many other POWs.

Several months later,  Father Kapaun was thrown into my room by the guards. He had a blood clot on his leg and was extremely weak. I slid over and gave him my place on the mud floor. Then I cared for his basic needs for the next five or six weeks. We made him a toilet using the top half of an old pot-bellied stove.

One day Chinese guards burst into my room and said they were taking Father Kapaun to the “hospital” on top of the hill. We called it “The Death House” because very few came out alive. In a week or two we learned Father Kapaun had died.

Although I am of a different faith, I will always remember the acts of kindness Father Emil Kapaun performed in the POW camps of North Korea.

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