Herington, not Marion, gets Kapaun honor
Herington’s post office will be renamed Captain Emil J. Kapaun Post Office Building as soon as the president signs a bill passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Kapaun, a Pilsen native who served as an Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War, died in a Korean prisoner-of-war camp May 23, 1951. He received a Congressional Medal of Honor for valiant service in the Korean War.
Why the Herington post office was selected instead of the Marion post office has created some surprise.
Michaela Todd, press secretary for Rep. Tracey Mann, first said Herington was chosen because it is the closest post office to Pilsen.
Herington is 19 miles from Pilsen. Marion, the post office that serves Pilsen, is 10 miles. Lincolnville is six.
“When we were researching, they saw that the closest one was in Herington, so we chose that one,” Todd said.
Upon further questioning, Todd deferred to staff member Riley Pagett, who was involved with planning for renaming the post office.
Herington had an Army air base from 1942 to 1947. Before joining the Army as a chaplain, Kapaun was an auxiliary chaplain at the base.
The post office in Marion was not asked for input on the renaming, and Kapaun relatives living in Michigan “did not raise any red flags,” Pagett said.
Harriet Bina, director of the Kapaun Museum in Pilsen, said she first heard about the potential renaming from Kapaun’s family.
“When I first heard it, way back before Father’s remains came home, the Kapaun family was planning to stop and see it,” Bina said. “The minute they mentioned that to us I said, ‘Are you sure it’s not Marion?’ He said, ‘No, it’s Herington,’” Bina said.
Kapaun went to the Herington air base every Sunday before he enlisted as an army chaplain, Bina said.
“I questioned, why it isn’t Marion,” Bina said. “It’s a shame it wasn’t in Marion, which is closer.”
Whether in Marion or Herington, she’s glad a post office is being renamed for Kapaun, because anything that gets his name out in front of people is good, she said.
“In one way, anything that helps Father Kapaun helps our cause along,” Bina said.
The Wichita Catholic diocese has worked for years to gather information for the Vatican in an effort to have Kapaun declared a saint.
Kapaun is being considered for designation as a martyr. If he is named a martyr, he automatically will be beatified, which means he will skip a step of being declared “venerable” on the ladder toward canonization.