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Military chapel a national historic site

The former Herington Army Airfield Chapel is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Anouncement was made by the Latimer Lutheran Church Preservation Society.

The chapel was named a Kansas Historic Site on Nov. 4.

In 1949, after World War II, the chapel was moved from the army base to Latimer, 10 miles northeast of Herginton on K-4. There it became Zion Lutheran Church until the church closed in 2021.

“We are proud that our building retains much of the original features as when it was located on the base,” said Cheryl Mussatto, chairman of the preservation society. “When you walk into the building, you are seeing the original three-panel wood doors, pine wainscoting, pews, ceiling, hanging light fixtures, windows. It’s like walking back in time.”

Giving it enhanced historic appeal is the fact that Father Emil J. Kapaun, native of Pilsen, was an auxiliary chaplain at the chapel from January 1943 to July 1944.

Kapaun was inspired to join the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944 after serving soldiers at the base. He died in a Korean prisoner of war camp in May, 1951, after months of self-sacrificing service to fellow prisoners.

For his service, Kapaun posthumously received the Medal of Freedom in 2013.

Pope John Paul II named Kapaun a servant of God in 1993, advancing his path to sainthood.

The preservation society continues to raise money, hoping to restore the chapel’s original 20 windows. The society plans to offer tours for individuals, schoolchildren, and groups interested in World War II history.

Last modified Feb. 21, 2024

 

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