‘The forgotten war’
The Korean conflict sometimes is called “the forgotten war,” overshadowed by the global cataclysm of World War II and the nation’s long struggle in Vietnam.
For veterans, though, there are vivid war memories: the desperation of eating weeds plucked from the dirt, the horror of discovering buddies who’d died overnight, the evanescent joy of taking a few puffs on their chaplain’s pipe. Many men of the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry regiment, credit Kapaun for their survival, emotionally and physically.
“He’s in my prayers every night,” Dowe said. “I ask him to help me rather than asking God to help him.”
Ray Kapaun was born after his uncle died, but he grew up hearing about him from his grandmother.
“In everything that Emil did, he led by example,” Ray Kapaun says. “He wasn’t a preachy person. He never expected anything from anybody that he wouldn’t do himself.”
The medal, he says, is both a family honor and a history lesson.
“It’s a huge validation but it’s almost an opportunity for a lot more people to know and see what kind of man he really was,” he said.