As faithful readers of this blog know, I have many times had posts about heroic Catholic Chaplains serving in our military. A man whose courage beggared description is Servant of God and Medal of Honor recipient Vincent J. Capodanno, known as the Grunt Padre. I am not ready yet to do a full post on him, wishing to do him justice, but a recent news story in The National Catholic Register caught my eye:
DA NANG, Vietnam — Bishop Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri of Da Nang recently said Mass in honor of Father Vincent Capodanno, a U.S. chaplain killed during the Vietnam War, and he encouraged his people to ask the priest’s intercession.
The Mass, said on June 14, marked the 55th anniversary of Father Capodanno’s priestly ordination. Father Capodanno was ordained for the Maryknoll Missionary order, and he later became a chaplain for the U.S. Navy.
While with Maryknoll, Father Capodanno served in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and then he requested to be reassigned as a chaplain with the Marines. He was sent to Vietnam in 1966 and requested an extension to his tour of duty when it was up.
On Sept. 4, 1967, his unit was in the Que Son Valley near Da Nang, and they became outnumbered by North Vietnamese forces. As American soldiers were being gunned down, Father Capodanno went about giving viaticum and anointing to the dying, as well as medical aid to the wounded.
His citation for the Medal of Honor says he “left the relative safety of the company command post and ran through an open area raked with fire. … Disregarding the intense enemy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire, he moved about the battlefield administering last rites to the dying and giving medical aid to the wounded.