Nightly News   |  April 11, 2013

Medal of Honor recipient and Korean War POW fearless under fire

An Army Chaplain who carried wounded soldiers from battle and risked his life to feed fellow POWs was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor Thursday, the highest military decoration in the U.S. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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>>> at the white house today president obama awarded the h medal of honor to a genuine american hero . a u.s. army chaplain who risked his life to save and care for hundreds of others in a p.o.w. compound during the korean war before he himself died in captivity more than 60 years ago. he was 35 years old. speaking today about army captain emil capon, president obama said to friends and family members, i can't imagine a better example for all of us whether in uniform or not in uniform. a better example to follow. we get his extraordinary story tonight from our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski .

>> reporter: it was one of the bloodiest phases of the korean war , the chinese had just enterered the fight. through it all walked a one-man miracle. an army chaplain on the front lines. capon, with no regard for his own safety often rode a bicycle into combat. that's him on the right carrying a wounded soldier from battle. army veteran bob wood says the father was fearless under fire.

>> we both dove into that ditch alongside the trail. i looked back and they had shot the pipe out of his mouth. all he had was the stem still clun clenched in his teeth.

>> reporter: they were eventually captured and thrown into a chinese prisoner of war camp where hundreds of americans died from the cold, starvation and worse.

>> there were a lot of people who were tortured and killed as prisoners.

>> reporter: capon remained defiant, often risking his own life to feed and care for his fellow prisoners.

>> it was great faith. he'd sneak off and steal food to feed the wounded with. and medicine.

>> reporter: dow credits the fatherer with saving hundreds of life through his own self-sacrifice and undaunting spirit and faith.

>> a good number of those that survived really owe their lives to father capon.

>> reporter: ultimately with his health failing the chinese guards ordered him to what the prisoners called the death house.

>> he said, don't cry for me. i'm going where i have always wanted to go.

>> i think he's the finest man i ever knew. i get all choked up just thinking about him.

>> reporter: even today, more than 60 years later, he's never left their side.

>> if he was here today, what would you tell h him?

>> what's your menu for tonight, father?

>> reporter: he is here today, isn't he?

>> yep.

>> reporter: jim miklaszewski , nbc news, the pentagon.