Letter to Bishop Mark Carroll - War is Terrible!

August 12, 1950

My Dear Bishop Carroll:

Please excuse the crudeness of this letter.  Yesterday I found this paper and ink in one of the abandoned houses of the Koreans.

I received your two letters written in July.  Many thanks for your kindness and remembrances in prayers.  It must be the prayers of the others which have saved me so far.  Three times we have been trapped by the Reds and have had to flee for our lives.  I lost everything I had except what I carried on my person.  I lost my jeep and trailer with all my equipment.  My assistant was shot and is now in the hospital.  The Protestant Chaplain who was working beside me, was hit by a mortar shell and lost part of his leg.  I was the only one who escaped unscathed.  I got another Mass Kit so I can say Mass when conditions permit.  Lost all of my records so I will have to guess about what to report.  In July I said Mass every Sunday except one (when I had no Mass Kit), attendance about 200.  I prepared soldiers in Confession and Holy Communion, I guess between 300 and 400 times.  I administered Extreme Unction many times.  Most of my Catholic soldiers are prepared.  I baptized two boys before battle and prepared about six or eight for their First Confessions and Holy Communion.  I carry the Holy Oils and the Blessed Sacrament with me at all times.  For nearly two weeks we were in battle, with no rest.  Many of my soldiers suffered heat exhaustion and sun stroke in this awful heat and climbing mountains.  We are on the front lines but the Reds have not tried to advance for several days.  That gives us a little much-needed rest.  We killed thousands.  They outnumber us about 15-1 (we were told).  Now since we have received more help, they outnumber us about 3-1.  If that is the case, we should give them a good licking.  War is terrible!  I feel sorry for the Korean people who have to leave their homes.  As the Reds approach, nearly everything is destroyed – homes, lives and food.  I hope these people can return in time to harvest their rice so they have some food for winter.

We have no mail censorship and this letter does not contain any vital information except the ratio of the out numbering.  Maybe this has been printed in the newspapers already.  Our mail reaches us fairly well.  I am glad to be with the soldiers in time of need.  So far, I have been right on the front lines giving absolution and Extreme Unction to the dying.  I had no chance to change clothes and my uniform got all bloody.  I’ve got a clean one now and I hope it will not be stained with blood.

Father Emil Kapaun

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