Support Activity (NSA), Gaeta, Italy. Chaplain Capodanno, one of the only two Navy chaplains (the other being Joseph T. O'Callahan) awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, received the award Posthumously for gallantry in conducting vital combat ministry and first aid on a battlefield in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam, on September 4, 1967.
The Second Platoon of M Company, Third Battalion, Fifth marines was in danger of being overrun by a massed enemy force. Disregarding intense enemy fire, his own wounds and personal safety, Chaplain Capodanno moved about the battle field administering last rites to the dying and giving medical aid to the wounded. He was wounded several times but refused medical aid and instead directed Navy hospital corpsmen to the wounded. Upon encountering a wounded corpsman and Marine in the direct line of fire, he rushed in a daring attempt to aid and assist his mortally wounded companions. At that instant, he was struck down, killed by an enemy Machine gunner's bullets.
Since the July 1993 decommissioning of the Navy frigate, USS VINCENT R. CAPODANNO (FF-1093), the Navy and members of the Italian-American Vincent R. Capodanno Association, located in Gaeta have sought to name a U.S. Navy facility on Italian soil to honor Fr. Vincent in recognition of his sacrifice and Italian-American heritage. Working with the Association, U.S. Naval Hospital Naples, under the command of Captain Fanancy L. Anzalone, and NSA Gaeta, under the command of Commander D.S. Favorite, made the dream come to life. In April 2000, the Chief of Naval Operations approved the proposal to name the Branch Medical Clinic, NSA Gaeta, in honor of LT. Capodanno. LCDR Gary Morris, command chaplain, Naval Hospital Naples said, "What a rewarding experience to see this multi-national dream come to fruition; to have a facility on Italian soil named in honor of Chaplain Capodaano. Dedicating a medical clinic in his name is particularly relevant as we recall that Fr. Vincent was aiding hospital corpsmen as well as Marines in combat."
LT Daniel Mode, Naval Reserve chaplain and author of the recently published book, The Grunt Padre, was the guest speaker. Chaplain Mode emphasized not only Fr. Vincent's commitment to his Marines and Sailors, but also the many good things that have happened as a result of his legacy of sacrifice and faith. He said, "In the dedication of this clinic, we keep alive Fr. Vince's example, an example of the way Navy chaplains in small and big ways sacrifice their lives, rendering compassionate care and assistance to our Sea Service personnel."
Jim Capodanno (Fr. Vincent's brother) and wife, Lydia, made the journey from Staten Island, New York to attend. Mr. Capodanno spoke of his brother's compassion and dedication to reaching out to the wear "Grunts" he loved. Mr. Capodanno, a retired Marine, was particularly moved by Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Thomas A. Maffin's dramatic reading from the foreword of Fr. Mode's book. The foreword was written by COL G. H. Turley, USMC (Ret.) who served with LT Capodanno.
Captain Jane F. Vieira, BUMED Claimant Chaplain, presented letters from the Navy Surgeon General and Chief of Chaplains. A letter from Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, VADM Gregory G. Johnson, was also read. Mr. Michele Cuoco, President of the VIncent R. Capodanno Association, Gaeta, assisted Jim Capodanno in the unveiling of a brass medallion plaque made in the likeness of "The Grunt Padre" an mounted on white Italian marble.
Chaplain Vincent R. Capodanno
On December 2, 2000, the memory and legacy of LT Vincent R. Capodanno, Chaplain Corps,
United States Navy, was honored with the naming of the Branch Medical Clinic at Naval