Kapaun-era jeep part of services
A 1943 military Jeep that veteran Robert Novak of Lost Springs has led Kapaun Day processions into Pilsen for 10 or 12 years was again in the lead Saturday as the chaplain’s remains arrived at St. John Nepomucene Church.
Novak, 94, was behind the wheel as usual. Veteran Ken Novak of Tampa accompanied him.
“I thought it was quite an honor,” Robert Novak said. “It was the right thing to do because Kapaun used a jeep like this on the battlefield.”
He said the Wichita Diocese requested it be brought to Wichita for today’s funeral parked at Hartman Arena.
Novak has owned the vehicle for about 25 years and cherishes it. He used it as it was during his service in Germany after World War II to convey messages and deliver supplies on the army base.
“I wasn’t too excited about sending it to Wichita, and I stressed the fact that somebody be around it all the time to make sure nothing gets pilfered off of it,” he said.
It has many interesting, practical features. A shovel and axe hang on the frame on the driver’s side. A tank mounted on the rear can hold water or gasoline.
“Dark-out” lights mounted on a front fender and the rear were used at night to allow the driver to see vehicles directly to the front and rear without alerting the enemy. The jeep also is equipped with a night light of sorts on the dashboard.
A metal rifle case is mounted under the dashboard in front of the driver. The windshield has manual wipers operated by cranks Novak said a passenger could operate the blades as needed but if alone, a driver would have to keep one hand on the wheel.
Terry Vinduska of Marion took the vehicle to Wichita Tuesday evening.
A blanket over the hood will make it look like the jeep in a famous photo of Kapaun saying Mass in the field.
“I’m doing what they want, and it’s a minor part compared to what Chaplain Kapaun did,” Novak said.