Military News

Friday, June 28, 2013

Former POWs Recall Chaplain at Medal of Honor Events

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2013 – An Army chaplain who posthumously received the nation’s highest military honor earlier this year was inspirational, courageous in battle, and someone who talked the talk and walked the walk, a group of former Korean War prisoners of war said in a recent interview with Army Television.

Army Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun, a Roman Catholic priest and a Korean War POW, was awarded the Medal of Honor in an April 12 White House ceremony and was inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon the next day, 62 years after his death.

Several of the chaplain’s fellow POWs attended the Medal of Honor events.

“In prison camp, he was an inspiration to everyone,” recalled Robert Wood, a former Army infantry first lieutenant. “He never failed to inspire me with his courage and his own devotion -- bathing the sick and wounded and scavenging for us. He was a good thief. He would steal rations for us from the Chinese.”

It was the winter of 1950-51 when Kapaun, Wood and hundreds of other U.S. troops were captured by the North Koreans and handed over to Chinese camps as POWs. Wood vividly remembers his first meeting with battalion chaplain Kapaun.

“When got to Korea the first time, we came in contact with the enemy [when] we were on one hill and another battalion was on another hill, running out of ammunition,” Wood said. “I volunteered to carry some ammo over to them. I headed out and all of a sudden, there’s Father Kapaun standing next to me, carrying ammo with a pipe clenched in his teeth. I said, ‘Where are you going, Father?’ and he said, ‘I’m going with you, son.’ We took off up the side of a hill with no cover -- just a ditch alongside the trail. We came under machine gun fire, and we both [dived] into the ditch.

“I looked over my shoulder at Father Kapaun, and all he had was the stem of the pipe still in his mouth. They’d shot the pipe right out of his mouth,” he continued. “I said ‘Father, do you really want to go?’ and he said, ‘Go on son, just go on.” He only increased my admiration, because in combat he was extremely courageous.”

Joe Ramirez, then an Army corporal, experienced a different introduction to Kapaun.

“We landed in South Korea July 18, 1950,” he said. “There were skirmishes. Father Kapaun came around to ask if anyone wanted to be baptized. I was the only one to raise my hand. We went to the river and he baptized me there.”

Ramirez said he has “everything ever written” about Kapaun in an album, which he refers to every week and shares with his children and grandchildren.

“[Father Kapaun] had a lot of influence, especially on the younger guys, of which I was one,” he noted. “He would say, ‘Don’t believe what [the Chinese] tell you. You’re all Christians,’ because they were trying to convert us to communism. He was against it, and that’s why the Chinese hated him.”

Ramirez credits Kapaun with giving the prisoners a reason to live amid the harsh conditions of the prison camp. “He gave us a lot of encouragement, talked to us and said prayers. In the winter it was 50 below zero,” he said. “A lot of us didn’t have winter clothing; we had summer clothing. He said, ‘Keep the faith -- we’re going to get out of here one of these days.’”

“He was more than a religious leader,” said Ray “Mike” Dowe Jr., an Army first lieutenant and platoon commander. “He taught people to have faith in their own beliefs, to maintain their integrity, to maintain faith in their country and their god, and by so doing, it gave people a will to live.”

After nightly “ration runs,” as he called them, Kapaun taught the other prisoners not to hoard food, but to share it, Dowe recalled.

“He would volunteer to carry the dead on stretchers every time,” he said. “He’d take the clothes off the dead, wash them and distribute them to the wounded, and take care of the sick. He’d have to escape from the officers’ compound to do it.”

Kapaun had the gift of emboldening the prisoners. “He was an inspiration to hundreds and hundreds of people who survived, and wouldn’t have survived that ordeal without him … [Survival] only comes from instilling the will to live, which comes from your beliefs, your country and resisting the enemy,” Dowe said.
Despite the conditions that go with captivity during a war, the chaplain tried to keep the prisoners’ spirits up and help them think positively, Wood recalled.

“The first months were horrible. During the first winter there was bitter cold, starvation, and we were all sick, but he would go around and lead us in prayer. Jews, Protestants and Catholics were saying the rosary,” he said.

Kapaun became stricken with a blood clot in spring 1951, but POW doctors were able to treat it. The chaplain then developed pneumonia, Dowe said. As he began to recover, the Chinese became restless over his survival.

“When he started to get well, they couldn’t tolerate it,” Dowe said. “They came down with bayonets and troops, and we tried to resist them. The doctors told [the Chinese] not to take [Kapaun], but they took him to what they called a hospital. We were in tears. He turned to me and said, ‘Mike, don’t cry. I’m going to where I always wanted to go and when I get there, I’ll say a prayer for all of you.’”

Rather than putting him in the hospital, Dowe said, the Chinese put Kapaun in a building with other prisoners who were beyond medical help. “It was just filled with every kind of bug, and feces,” he said. “[The Chinese] didn’t feed them. They [placed him] in a 7-by-7-foot [room] after his death, they threw his remains into a pile.”

Dowe said he later spoke with people on teams that were on a recovery mission in North Korea. They told Dowe they found that area and recovered some of Kapaun’s remains.

“We lost something when we lost him -- [he was] a constant reminder, a ray of hope that we were going to get out of this thing eventually, and he was someone who retained his civility and devotion,” Wood said.
Wood was one of the prisoners who had to carry the chaplain to “the death house,” he said.

“We all knew taking him up there was a death sentence, yet he was calming everyone around him, saying he was going to a better place and that he’d pray for us, and not to be upset. What really stunned me was he was blessing the Chinese who were killing him,” Wood said, becoming emotional. “I had tears in my eyes when he was doing it. I could never do that.”

Hagel Assesses Capabilities at Cheyenne Mountain Complex

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2013 – As part of his two-day tour of Colorado facilities and installations, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station yesterday to assess current defense capabilities in the face of the nation’s new challenges.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command, look over a 9/11 monument made from a remnant of the World Trade Center, outside Northcom headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 27, 2013. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Hagel’s stops included homeland and integrated air and missile defense briefings from officials and Canadian partners at North American Aerospace Defense Command, and Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command and NORAD at Peterson Air Force Base.

“This facility … and the entire complex of NORAD and Northcom represent, really, the nerve center of defense for North America,” Hagel said.

The secretary’s wife, Lilibet, accompanied him and also visited facilities to meet with troops and their families to address sexual assault and other matters affecting the welfare of the force.

“It is the people that are the core of any institution,” Hagel said. “It really matters little how much money you have in the budget or how much technology you have –- if you don’t have the right people, you don’t have much.”

Hagel praised the quality and character of troops as “central to the defense of this country,” giving special recognition to those who have battled debilitating area forest fires in recent months.

“This has been a tough … time for many states in our country dealing with natural disasters,” Hagel said. “I’m very proud of the kind of contributions … that our service members have made to this community and to help others. That’s who we are, and that is part of our mission in the Defense Department.”

Leaks Damage National Security, NSA Director Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2013 – Recent media leaks have caused “significant and irreversible damage” to U.S. security, the director of the National Security Agency said yesterday in Baltimore.

Public discussion of NSA's tradecraft or the tools that support its operations provides insights that the nation’s adversaries can and do use, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander told an audience at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association International Cyber Symposium.

“Those who wish us harm now know how we counter their actions,” Alexander said. “These leaks have caused significant and irreversible damage to our nation's security.

“The damage is real,” he continued. “I believe the irresponsible release of classified information about these programs will have a long-term detrimental impact on the intelligence community's ability to detect future attacks. These leaks have inflamed and sensationalized for ignoble purposes the work that the intelligence community does lawfully under strict oversight and compliance.”

Explaining the programs exposed by the leaks, the general said the 9/11 Commission found that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States succeeded because “the intelligence community could not connect the dots, foreign and domestic.”

To address that failing, Alexander said, the intelligence community set up and Congress authorized two programs. The first, Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act of 2001, allows the government to collect telephone metadata for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations. The second, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allows the targeting, for foreign intelligence purposes, of communications of foreign persons who are located abroad.

Each program is subject to strict oversight procedures by all three branches of the government, Alexander said.

“We understand and support the need to ensure we protect both civil liberties and national security. It's not one or the other. It must be both,” he said. “That's why we take oversight of these programs very seriously.”
According to a June 2012 report issued by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, the general said, the committee did not find any cases of a government official willfully circumventing or violating the law while using the access granted under these authorities.

Under Section 215, telephone metadata is collected from service providers and placed into a “virtual lockbox,” the general explained. “The only way NSA can go into that lockbox is if we have what is called reasonable, articulable suspicion of a selector that is related to terrorism,” he said.

In 2012, NSA approved about 300 selectors, such as telephone numbers, to initiate queries into the virtual lockbox, Alexander said. For a request to be approved, he said, “there has to be a foreign nexus, an association with al-Qaida or other specified terrorist organizations.”

Alexander cited Operation High-Rise as an example of how this process works in practice.

The NSA used a Section 702 authorization to compel a service provider to turn over the emails of terrorists the agency was tracking in Pakistan, he said. Armed with that information, Alexander said, analysts found that an al-Qaida terrorist in Pakistan was emailing a person they believed to be in Colorado, and that information was then turned over to the FBI.

The man in Colorado turned out to be Najibullah Zazi, the general said. The FBI provided the NSA with Zazi’s phone number, which, combined with the email connection to the al-Qaida operative, provided reasonable, articulable suspicion for the NSA to access the virtual lockbox of telephone metadata, Alexander said.

“We looked in that lockbox, and we found that Zazi was talking to a guy in New York who had connections to other terrorist elements for another operation,” he said. The access allowed the NSA to connect Zazi to other potential terrorists as well, the general said.

“We got that information in early September 2009 for an attack that was supposed to take place in mid-September,” Alexander told the symposium audience. “It would have been the biggest al-Qaida attack on American soil since 9/11. We were privileged and honored to be a part of disrupting that plot. FAA 702 was the initial tip. That's how important these programs are.”

In 2010, Zazi pleaded guilty to planning to conduct one of three coordinated suicide bombings on the New York City subway system during rush hour.

America’s allies have benefitted from the surveillance programs, as well, Alexander said.

Last week, he said, the NSA provided to Congress 54 cases “in which these programs contributed to our understanding and, in many cases, helped enable the disruption of terrorist plots in the U.S. and in over 20 countries throughout the world.”

Of the 54 cases, 42 involved disrupted plots, the general said. Twelve cases involved material support to terrorism, and 50 of the 54 led to arrests or detentions.

Forty-one cases involved targets outside the United States.

“Twenty-five of these events occurred in Europe, 11 in Asia, and five in Africa,” Alexander said. “Thirteen events had a homeland nexus. In 12 of those events, Section 215 contributed to our overall understanding and help to the FBI, 12 of the 13. That's only where the business record FISA can play.”

In all but one of the cases the NSA provided to Congress, Section 702 data played a role or provided the initial tip, Alexander said. “A significant portion -- almost half of our counterterrorism reporting -- comes from Section 702,” he added.

The programs operate under a rigorous oversight framework, the general said. To target the content of a U.S. person's communications anywhere in the world, FISA’s provisions require a finding of probable cause under a specific court order, he told the audience.

“These capabilities translate into significant information on ongoing terrorist activities, with no willful violations of our law,” he said. “I think that's something to be proud of. We have defended the nation 54 times -- and our allies -- and we have ensured the protection of our civil liberties and privacy and oversight by … all three branches of our government. I think that's what the nation expects our government to do: disrupt terrorist activities [and] defend our civil liberties and privacy.”