‘Grunt Padre’ memorialized at Pentagon

[Originally from the ACH]

04
Retired Navy Capt. Ted Bronson presents a copy of the book The Grunt Padre to Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, chaplain of the Marine Corps. The book was written by Fr. Daniel Mode, a priest of the Arlington Diocese.

It started with a simple conversation in mid-July during a pilgrimage to Rome.

Retired Navy Capt. Ted Bronson told Chip and Sharon Lofton of Roxboro, N.C., the inspiring story of Maryknoll Father Vincent Capodanno.

The Loftons instantly felt inspired to do something to memorialize the U.S. Navy chaplain from Staten Island, N.Y., who died a martyr on a battlefield in Vietnam. They commissioned their friend, artist George Bucannan, to create a portrait based on a holy card sent to them by Bronson.

Bucannan’s portrait was unveiled Aug. 30 at a Pentagon ceremony that included Gen. John M. Paxton, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps; Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben, chaplain of the Marine Corps; and Maj. Gen. Mike Regner, staff director at Marine Corps headquarters.

The lower scene of Bucannan’s painting depicts Father Capodanno on the Que Son Valley battlefield, about 35 miles from Danang. He is giving the last rites and medical attention to the wounded and dying “grunts” in their time of pain, sorrow and dying.

02
Gen. John M. Paxton (right), assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, and Chip and Sharon Lofton of Roxboro, N.C., bow their heads in prayer after the portrait of Fr. Vincent Capodanno was unveiled during an Aug. 30 ceremony at the Pentagon.

In his brief remarks at the Pentagon ceremony, Bronson said that Father Capodanno was first wounded in the shoulder and later his hand before being killed by direct fire shortly after telling a wounded soldier, “Stay calm Marine, someone will be with you shortly. God is with us this day.”

Bronson said that Father Capodanno was killed on the opening day of “Operation Swift,” which was the worst casualty day for Marines during the Vietnam War.

“Father Capodanno was a true ‘Grunt Padre,’” said Bronson. “He died always faithful to his God, his country and his Marines.”

01
Surrounding the portrait of Fr. Vincent Capodanno are (from left): Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, chaplain of the Marine Corps; retired Navy Captain Ted Bronson of Arlington; Ambassador Juan Garcia, assistant secretary of the Navy; Chip and Sharon Lofton of Roxboro, N.C.; and Gen. John M. Paxton, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

In addition to the new portrait, the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services honored Father Capodanno at a Sept. 4 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The Mass was celebrated on the 46th anniversary of Father Capodanno’s death.

Letter from Andrew Phan Quang

Dear Mr. Bronson,
I am very happy to be informed about events happened in Que Chau, where the Servant of God, Fr. Vincent Capodanno died. Blood of Martyrs generates the Church, heroic virtues of Fr. Vincent have greatly affected on the local inhabitants. At present, due to actively mediate of the Servant of God, Fr. Vincent, the Catholic Community of Que Chau is increasing the number and virtuous life. There are over 100 Catholics, in which two nuns and two postulants. We are far from the main Church of parish, but the mass is celebrated here very crowdedly and zealously.  I hope this community will expand fast in the future thanks to the mediation of the Father Vincent Capodanno and to your incessant pray.
By the way, I would like to be on be half of all Catholics in Que Chau Community to express profound gratitude for what you do to me and my community.
May God in the active mediation of the Servant of God, Fr. Vincent Capodanno, bestow many graces to you. I hope all Fr. Vincent wish will be done by will.
With communion in daily prayer with the Servant of God Capodanno.
Yours truly,
Andrew Phan Quang.