Johnson County Vet Day ceremony to honor chaplain

A Kansas Congressional Medal of Honor recipient will be remembered at Johnson County’s 2013 Veterans Day Observance. The public event at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Overland Park will include the dedication of a new panel added to the memorial’s red granite wall in honor of Chaplain Emil Kapaun, a Roman Catholic priest and U.S. Army captain, who died on May 23, 1951 as a prisoner of war.

The events takes place at 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, located at the corner of 119th Street and Lowell Avenue in Overland Park. Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, will emcee the ceremony.

Featured speakers include Army Brigadier General Victor Braden (current Deputy Commanding General, Army National Guard, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center) and Lt. Colonel Kwangsoo Kim, representing the Republic of Korea (also called South Korea) who currently serves as the South Korean liaison officer to the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth.

The program also will feature:

Patriotic music by the Blue Valley North High School Band;

Presentation of colors by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Color Guard;

Exhibit of vintage military vehicles;

Placement of memorial wreaths by veteran organizations; and,

Playing of “Echo Taps,” bagpipe music, and traditional rifle salute.

An exhibit of veteran memorabilia from the Gardner Historical Museum will be on display in the Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, 11902 Lowell Avenue, which is adjacent to the memorial. Parking will be available at the community center and at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 7851 West 119th Street. The church is east of the memorial across Lowell Avenue.

The 2013 event is sponsored by Johnson County Government in partnership with the Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 181, based in Lenexa, and the city of Overland Park.

Kapaun and Kansas’ Other Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients

A native of Pilsen, located near Wichita, Kapaun was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously on April 11, 2013. For his wartime activities, the Roman Catholic Church has declared him a Servant of God, the first stage on the path to possible sainthood.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 2006, lists two other Medal of Honor recipients from Kansas for their actions in Korea.

Army Master Sergeant Stanley T. Adams, who was born in De Soto, raised in Olathe, and fought in World War II, was cited for his leadership and bravery in leading a bayonet charge again overwhelming odds on Feb. 4, 1951, near Sesim-ni, Korea. He was 28 and remained in the Army after Korea, serving in Vietnam and retiring in 1970 as a lieutenant colonel. He died in 1999.

Marine Corporal Jack Davenport of Mission received the military’s highest honor for covering an enemy grenade with his body, saving the life of a fellow Marine in the foxhole they shared. He had celebrated his 20th birthday two weeks before his death near Songnae-Dong, Korea.

Johnson County’s annual Veterans Day observance began in 1987 with public services on the south steps of the Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Olathe before moving to the Kansas National Armory in west Olathe from 1995 to 2006. Since 2007, the county event has occurred at veteran memorial sites throughout Johnson County, including the cities of Olathe, Overland Park, Merriam, Gardner, and the New Century AirCenter.

This year, the Johnson County Veterans Day program honors veterans of the Korean War in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement ending the fighting. Almost 37,000 American soldiers were killed in the three-year war, including 415 from Kansas. Seven of them were from Johnson County, including three soldiers from Olathe, two from Mission, and one each from De Soto and Gardner.

The offices of Johnson County Government will be closed Monday, Nov. 11, in observance of Veterans Day. More information about the Veterans Day event is available by contacting the Johnson County Manager’s Office at 913-715-0430.


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