Marker #2092 Father Herman Felhoelter

Historical Marker #2092, in Louisville, Kentucky, commemorates Father Herman Felhoelter, who served as a United States Army Chaplin for over a quarter of his ministerial career.

Father Herman Felhoelter was born in Louisville, Kentucky and was ordained by the Franciscans in 1939. Five years after his ordination, in 1944, he volunteered as an Army Chaplin. Father Felhoelter served the 12th Armored Division of World War II, known as the Suicide Division, for their bloody mile trek through France. He was awarded a Bronze Star for this service and then moved to Cincinnati to serve as an assistant pastor. However, in 1948, he was recommissioned and sent to Korea to serve the 19th Infantry. Although he was a noncombatant and therefore unarmed, he joined the infantry on each excursion. On July 16th, 1950, Father Felhoelter joined the infantry in the village of Tuman. The soldiers were forced to retreat due to the overwhelming number of North Korean troops. Despite this, Father Felhoelter chose to stay with the 30 men who were unable to move due to their severe wounds, he prayed over the soldiers and read them their last rites as he waited for help to arrive. As he was praying over a soldier, he was shot in his head and back before assistance came. He was the first Chaplin to be killed in the Korean War. The remaining 30 troops were also massacred, at what is known as the Chaplin-Medic Massacre. This tragedy happened just one day before his 37th birthday. Father Herman Felhoelter sacrificed his life to serve those in the armed forces. Four days before his death he wrote home to his mother, “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.” In honor of his service, Felhoelter was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Korean Service Medal, and the United Nations Korean Medal.

Marker #2092 was dedicated in 2002 by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department of Highways. It reads: Father Herman Felhoelter. Herman Gilbert Felhoelter was born in Louisville, July 17, 1913. Ordained a catholic priest by Order of Franciscans, 1939. Commissioned a captain in Chaplain Corps of U.S. Army, 1944. Awarded Bronze Star for service under fire, World War II. He was appointed an assistant pastor in Cincinnati after war and recommissioned in army, July 1948. Presented by St. Martin of Tours Church. (Reverse) Sacrifice in Korea. During the Korean War battle for Taejon, Father Herman Felhoelter volunteered to stay behind with the wounded of 19th Infantry. These men were soon overcome and killed by enemy, July 16, 1950. Felhoelter posthumously awarded Distinguished Service Cross. Honored by National Chaplains Memorial in Arlington. Buried Louisville, St. Michael Cem. Presented by St. Martin of Tours Church.