|Lt. Fr. Vincent R. Capodanno|
image from Wikipedia
As I was letting that silence soak in, I couldn't help remember how chaotic the situation must have been on Monday, 4 September 1967, in Que-Son Valley in then South Vietnam.
On that day, I was two months short of 5. My parents used to rear chickens in those days to reduce our food bills. As usual, during the morning of that day, I was probably playing with the chickens and stepping on their poo while 500 miles to the north of my hometown (Kuantan, Malaysia), US Marines were fighting the North Vietnamese Army and stepping on booby traps and mines. Among them was Father Capodanno, administering Last Rights to the dying and patching up the wounded.
That was also the day that Lt. Vincent Robert Capodanno was martyred - after obtaining 3 Purple Hearts - all in ONE day!
I first heard about Servant of God, Lt. Fr. Vincent Capodanno while doing some research on Hero Priests in 2010. I was preparing to present a vocation camp for the Confirmation Class of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Puchong, Malaysia. I wanted to showcase to these kids that priests can also be heroes, despite the media portraying all Catholic priests as sexual predators preying on children.
I created a video to highlight priests who are worth emulating that you can watch here...
My apologies to the Capodanno family for misspelling the family name.
For Christmas 2011, I bought the book titled, The Grunt Padre: Father Vincent Robert Capodanno, Vietnam, 1966-1967, for my 19-year old son, Jared. In this age, when kids have role models in small 50 Cent denominations or sound like M&M, something is seriously wrong. I hope this chronicle of Father Vincent's life will inspire him to serve and sacrifice too.
Wouldn't somebody with such a story like this inspire you more...
For some inexplicable reason I hold Fr. Capodanno as my own hero priest. I'm not sure if it's because I wanted to be a priest when I was in my early tweens and teens, or because I was an Army Reserve Second Lieutenant or is it because he was the saint who was closest to me in time and space. I'm in the midst of reading this book and I was thrilled to read that the Grunt Padre participated in Operation Rio Blanco from Nov. 20 -27, 1966. 20th November 1966 was my 4th birthday. There's a running joke in my family that dates associated with my sister, Jackie, are jinxed - so I was amused that on her 1st birthday, May 11, 1966, Fr. Capodanno received both the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal.
I write this on the 45th anniversary (it's the 4th of September in Malaysia) of Fr. Vincent's departure into eternal life and I hope that if you are looking for a hero to emulate or a role model for today's youth, present them with this gripping book. If you think this book will help your parish priest or even your Bishop, get him a copy.
Jesus said the harvest is great but the laborers are few. On Labor Day 1967, one of God's few laborers went home after a bountiful harvest...
You may get the book from Amazon by clicking the image below...