Franciscan Love

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 For love of Him they ought to expose themselves to enemies both visible and invisible.

Saint Francis of Assisi


Born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 17, 1913, Herman G. Felhoelter was ordained a Franciscan priest in 1939.  He served as an Army chaplain during War II and was awarded a Bronze Star.

Reenlisting in the Army after the war, on July 16th 1950 he was a Captain serving as a chaplain with the 19th Infantry in Korea.  The 19th was in a tough spot that day.  The North Koreans had established a road block in the rear of the regiment near the village of Tunam, South Korea.  The regiment was in retreat, moving through mountains, trying to get around the roadblock, and slowed by the numerous wounded being carried due to the heavy fighting with the North Koreans during the battle for Taegu.  It was obvious by 9:00 PM on the evening of July 16th that 30 of the most seriously wounded could go no farther due to their stretcher bearers being exhausted.  Father Felhoelter and the chief medical officer Captain Linton J. Buttrey volunteered to stay with the wounded while the rest of the men escaped.  Father  Felhoelter was under no illusions of what would happen to the wounded and to him after the advancing North Koreans captured them, and swiftly gave them the Last Rites while he tended to them.

Soon Father Felhoelter  heard a North Korean patrol approaching.  He told Buttrey to escape, which Buttrey reluctantly did, being severely wounded in the process.  An American sergeant with binoculars watched in horror at what happened next.  Ignoring the approaching North Koreans, Father Felhoelter knelt and prayed over the wounded.  The North Koreans killed him by shooting him in the head and the back and then proceeded to murder the helpless wounded.

For his heroism that day  Father Felhoelter posthumously was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal for valor in the US Army after the Medal of Honor.  He was one day shy of his 37th birthday, and was the first US chaplain to die in the Korean War.  A few days before his death he wrote to his mother:   Don’t worry Mother. God’s will be done. I feel so good to know the power of your prayers accompanying me. I am not comfortable in Korea (that is impossible here) but I am happy in the thought that I can help some souls who need help. Keep your prayers going upward.

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  1. Franciscan love . . . zeal for the salvation of souls . . . moral courage.

    How blessed am I that I have Father Felhoelter’s brother priests of St. Francis of Assisi on 32nd Street 24/7 loving me!

    Father Mychal Judge (RIP. 11 September 2001) ministered there as well.

  2. Paul,
    One can acknowledge that homosexual conduct is sinful and object to its advocacy without entering into such unfair speculation.

  3. This post was not written to have aspersions cast on the courage of others, but rather to marvel at the courage and love shown by Father Felhoelter. Let us thank God that God gave us such a man who so perfectly emulated the love shown by Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi.

  4. My apologies, Mike P. and Donald M. I get angry that liberals say authentic Christians are unloving while the apostates are the only ones who aren’t apostate and who show true love. So I wondered aloud how many of them would sacrifice their own lives. This wasn’t the right post in which to make that comment. -10 points for me.

  5. Last night on CNN Don Lemon talked with Stephen Hawking and gushed about him being the smartest man ever. Lemon talked up Hawking’s idea that God does not exist, that nobody made the universe, and nobody care about our life or death.

    Father Felhoelter – his belief in God was so strong that he went where he wasn’t comfortable, to do something so hard that it seems iin-credible to all of us narcissists who might try to “practice” our faith, who verbally acknowledge God– but, who look at Father Felhoelter- and realize he GAVE HIS LIFE for something unseen, unknown.
    Stephen Hawkings said theists only believe that to comfort themselves. Some comfort huh Father?

  6. “The North Koreans killed him by shooting him in the head and the back and then proceeded to murder the helpless wounded.”

    Filthy, dirty, Godless commies.

    Steven Hawking will never experience the love that Father Felhoelter had.

  7. Stephen Hawking relies on the charity of others to stay alive, and all true charity comes from God. How ironic.

    “…ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” 2nd Timothy 3:7.

    Stephen Hawking will at least one day see if not experience the love that Fr. Felhoelter had. For some that sadly will be as described in Revelation 20:11-15 when it is too late. Pray that that is NOT the case for Dr. Hawking. Fr. Felhoelter would not want him to so perish, nor would he have wanted those commies who murdered him to likewise perish, regardless that they were as filthy and dirty and godless as those Roman soldiers at the foot of the Cross. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

    OK, this rare moment of lucidity has passed. I will now return to being the malcontent that I normally am. 😉

  8. God bless S. Hawking and us all. Hawking’s lack of belief, and Don Lemon’s endorsement of it promotes atheism to an ever wider group.
    The faith of Father Felhoelter is such a contrast!

  9. Jaspar I think that the reason communist countries fail is because they are godless and so are weak and based on the hatred of Good, and so despite the vast and amazing zeal among communists communist nations always fail because of how corrupt they are. So the communist ideology is just another annoying evil that gets in the way.

  10. I believe Fr Felhoelter grew up in my parish, as there’s a historical marker erected outside the parish for him.

  11. Stephen Hawking is in the bizarre situation of depending on millions of dollars of state of the art equipment and personal assistants to function and to pay for these, he must publish popular books that make lots of money. Scholarly books will not bring in the millions he makes ‘selling atheism’ and he basically writes the same book over and over. It is macabre.

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