A Sailor's Story: Lieutenant Vincent Robert Capodanno


Lieutenant Vincent Robert Capodanno was born on February 13, 1929, in Staten Island, New York. He graduated from Curtis High School in 1947. He worked as an insurance clerk while taking night classes at Fordham University until entering the Mary Knoll Missionary Seminary in 1949. Lieutenant Capodanno was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on June 14, 1958.

Lieutenant Vincent Capodanno traveled to the mountains of Taiwan to serve as a mission priest for the Hakka people, serving there until 1964, when he volunteered to serve as a US Navy Chaplain for forces deployed in the Vietnam War. His request was granted on August 13, 1965. 

After extensive training, "Grunt Padre," as he was known, deployed to Vietnam with the 5th and 7th Marines in April 1966. Lieutenant Capodanno earned a Congressional Medal of Honor on September 4, 1967, near the Vietnamese village of Dong Song, when units of the 5th Marines fell under attack.  

The Marines were outnumbered and about to be overrun. Lieutenant Vincent Capodanno rushed to and stayed with the wounded and fallen Marines, despite being wounded from mortar shrapnel that took part of his hand, anointing the sick and performing last rites until he himself was killed by a burst of enemy fire.  

He rests at St. Peter's Cemetery in Staten Island, New York.

The Canonization process was started on May 19, 2002. He was declared a Servant of God on May 21, 2006.

Grunt Padre, pray for us.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

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