Family hopeful remains of Fr. Kapaun return to Kansas

Published: Jul. 27, 2018 at 6:41 PM CDT
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Although Father Emil Kapaun never came home, the the impact he's had on many lives is apparent, more than 60 years after he died.

He's one of 100 Korean War soldiers from Kansas who never made it home. The Catholic priest died as a prisoner of war in North Korea. He's been recognized as a hero for his care of fellow soldiers during the war, all the way until his final moments.

Kapaun died 67 years ago. But nearly seven decades later, his legacy of helping fellow soldiers physically, emotionally and spiritually is something his nephew, Ray Kapaun, says lives on.

"When I see how his story and how his name and what he did affects people, and you talk to the P.O.W.'s who were in the camp with him and how 50, 60 years later they talk about how much his life and what he did for them affects them its just incredible," Ray Kapaun says.

The remains of 100 Kansas soldiers, including those of Father Kapaun, are unaccounted for.

"I know my grandmother, when they first announced he had died and they had notified her, she was wanting to go back and the bishop at the time had to intervene her from going to North Korea to get the remains," Ray Kapaun says.

He says Friday's announcement of possible remains from the Korean War coming back to the U.S. gives his family hope Father Kapaun will be among them.

"I know for me -- my middle name is Emil -- it would be a lot of closure," Ray Kapaun says. "It would mean finally being able to come home."