Kapaun Air Station



435th Air Base Wing, 86th Airlift Wing

Capt Emil Kapaun

Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun

Old Kapaun Barracks Gate

Old Kapaun Barracks Gate

Kisling NCOA 1992

Kisling NCO Academy 1992

Kisling NCOA Coin

Kisling NCO Academy Coin

Capt. Emil Kapaun

Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun has received many military honors since he died a prisoner of war in Korea more than 58 years ago.

There was the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device, the Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross.

In 1955, the Army named Kapaun Barracks - now Kapaun Air Station - in Kaiserslautern after him.

But Korean War veterans who told stories of a calm and courageous foot soldier who stole food for others from his captors and tended to the wounded thought he was due one more accolade: the Medal of Honor.

After years of campaigning, they might just get their wish.

A congressman from Kapaun's home state of Kansas learned earlier this month that in one of his final acts as Army secretary, Pete Geren recommended Kapaun for the Medal of Honor, the military's highest decoration.

Kapaun was captured by the Chinese in the fall of 1950, when Communist forces overran the 1st Cavalry Division in northern Korea near the Chinese border. American commanders had ordered their forces to retreat, but Kapaun, a Catholic priest with the 3rd Battalion, refused and stayed to care for the men who couldn't flee.

Story has it that Kapaun was administering the last rites to a dying soldier when he was captured, while huddled with a group of more than 50 wounded people he had helped gather in an old dugout. Fellow prisoners told of how Kapaun continued to care for his men even though he was weakened and sick himself. He died seven months later in a prison hospital in Pyoktong.

Kisling NCO Academy

The Kisling NCO Academy serves as the only NCO academy in Europe where hundreds of technical sergeants complete their next level of Professional Military Education every year.

On May 16, 1950, the USAFE Commander Gen. John K. Cannon established the Academy of Leadership and Management at Wiesbaden Air Base. The USAFE school curriculum was developed for NCOs from the Senior Military Manager Course and the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, University of Pennsylvania. It was very successful, training 2,094 students in just 10 months. Unfortunately, that is when the school closed.

With six bases opening in Germany (to include Ramstein) and eight more in France, USAFE units could no longer spare their mid-level managers long enough to attend. The primary reason this NCO school is not recognized as the true beginning of the NCOA is because the program's success had led to inclusion of junior officers.

After an early start in NCO education, USAFE did not reestablish a school until the USAFE Command Leadership and Management Center opened at Lindsey Air Station, Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1972. After a short relocation to Sembach, it made a final move to Kapaun October 1975. The following year, the center closed briefly to reopen as the fully accredited USAFE NCOA. Renamed the Kisling NCOA (1986) in honor of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Richard D. Kisling, this school carries on the proud legacy of USAFE's long commitment to NCO education.

The course lasts six weeks. In that time students will spend more than 220 academic hours learning how to become better leaders.

Page Updated: 2012-07-26 07:28:43
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