First a Maryknoll missionary serving in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Father Capodanno became a Navy Chaplain and served with the 7th and 5th Marines in Vietnam. He called them "my Marines," and was always there for them when they needed him. They called him "The Grunt Padre," the highest compliment they could bestow.
At 4:30 am, September 4th, 1967 , in the Thang Binh District of the Que-Son Valley, elements of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines found the large North Vietnamese Unit, approx. 2500 men, near the village of Dong Son. By 9:14 am, twenty-six Marines were confirmed dead. The situation was in doubt and another Company of Marines was committed to the battle. At 9:25 am, the 1st Battalion 5th Marine Commander requested assistance of two company's of the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, "M"and "K" Company.Wounded once in the face and suffering another wound that almost severed his hand, Father Capodanno was killed while trying to save the life of a fellow servicemen. He received the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1971.
During those early hours, Chaplain Capodanno received word of the battle taking place. He sat in on the morning briefing at the 3rd Battalion's Combat Operations Center. He took notes and listened to the radio reports coming in. As the elements of Company "M" and "K" prepared to load the helicopters. "Fr.Vince" requested to go with them. His Marines needed him. "It's not going to be easy" he stated.
Father Capodanno never fired a weapon in anger, yet "his Marines" still consider him one of their great heroes. His example is a stark reminder to us all that pacifism can be a brave and honourable stand. It also stands as a stark reminder of the moral chasm that has opened beneath the feet of Western pacifism in the last 40 years.