On 4 September 1967, Navy Chaplain Father Vincent Capodanno was killed by Northern Vietnamese gunfire as he ministered and gave last rites to wounded and dying US soldiers. Despite being seriously wounded in the face and hands, he went to help a wounded soldier just a short distance from an enemy machine gun – which shot and killed him.
Fr. Capodanno, or as the soldiers called him “The Grunt Padre” had already been wounded twice before during his time in Vietnam when he volunteered to travel with a Marine unit being sent to the dangerous Que Son Valley. After his unit of 500 soldiers arrived at the valley, it was attacked by a force of 2,000 North Vietnmanese. Despite being outnumbered, Fr. Capodanno stayed with his unit until his death, encouraging the soldiers and offering both physical and spiritual assistance.
Fr. Capodanno would posthumously be awarded the Medal of Honor and his cause for canonization has been opened. The frigate USS Capodanno has been named after him. The USS Capodanno was the first ship the US fleet to receive a papal blessing.
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