Friday, April 21, 2017

Servant of God and Marine

Vincent Robert Capodanno was born in 1929 in Staten Island, New York and was awarded the Medal of Honor for “...conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Chaplain of the 3d Battalion, in connection with operations against enemy forces.” (Medal of Honor Citation for Fr. Capodanno) 

Vincent Capodanno was the 10th son of Vincent and Rachel Capodanno, Italian immigrants in New York. He had three brothers who served in World War II and this experience instilled in him a strong sense of patriotism that complimented his deep faith in God and love of his Catholic faith, a faith demonstrated by daily mass attendance before high school classes and during his short time at Fordham University. 

After little over a year at Fordham University, Vincent Capodanno followed the call of God and entered the Maryknoll Missionary Seminary in Ossining, New York. After nine years of vigorous formation, he was ordained a priest on June 14, 1958, by Cardinal Spellman, then Archbishop of New York. From there he would travel to Taiwan to minister to the native Taiwanese by administering the sacraments, teaching native catechists and providing food and medicine to those in need. After his missionary assignments in Hong Kong and Taiwan, he petitioned his Maryknoll superiors to be released for a vocation as a military chaplain. In 1965 they granted his request and he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 28, 1965. 

His first assignment was to the 1st Battalion 7th Marines in Vietnam, an assignment he began on Holy Week in 1966. During this assignment, he focused on the young enlisted troops and was their constant companion. He spent his days reassuring them, consoling them and giving them spiritual guidance and grace. He loved this work and upon completion of his first tour of duty in April 1967 he requested an extension. His extension was granted and in June of 1967, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. 

It was in this division that Father Capodanno would follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and give his life for others. On September 4, 1967, Father Capodanno and his fellow Marines encountered the enemy at 0430 in the morning near the village of Dong Son in the Que Son Valley. By 0915 26 marines had been confirmed dead and their commander was requesting reinforcements. Throughout the devastating battle Fr. Capodanno valiantly moved among the battle lines both helping injured Marines to safety and providing last rites and comfort to the wounded and dying. After having been wounded by an exploded mortar round and losing a portion of his right hand Fr. Capodanno refused medical treatment and instead continued to serve his Marines. He encountered a wounded medic and despite his position 15 yards from an enemy machine gunner, Fr. Capodanno rushed to provide aid to the mortally wounded medic and was killed by 27 bullets from the enemy machine gunner. Fr. Capodanno died in the service of God and his fellow Marines not only upholding the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service but bringing the light of Christ to his fellow Marines in times of great darkness. 
Father Capodanno was awarded the Medal of Honor on January 7, 1969, and was declared a Servant of God by the Catholic Church on May 21, 2006. A Sainthood cause has been opened for Father Capodanno.

God of peace, You who weep
at the violence and wars between your children,
help us to walk in the footsteps of your Son.
In our darkest hour be our light
and show us the way to help those in greatest need.
Draw to Yourself those innocent victims who
find themselves surrounded by danger and destruction.
Hear the prayers of all who cry out to you for deliverance.
Through the intercession of Vincent Capodanno, Servant of God,
grant strength to the weak, courage to the fearful
and hope to those who mourn.
Above all, direct our hands this day to reach out and comfort
all who yearn for the coming of Your kingdom on earth.

Fr. Capodanno, Pray for us.


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