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Father Albert Braun OFM (September 5, 1889 – March 6, 1983) was a Roman Catholic Priest and teacher in the Southwest and the Pacific United States.

Father Braun served as an US Army Chaplain in both World War I and World War II. During World War II he was held prisoner of war and survived the Bataan Death March. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart, two Silver Stars, and the Legion of Merit.[1]

Father Albert Braun Memorial in Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona

Early life[edit | edit source]

Born John William Braun to German immigrants in Los Angeles, California.[2] Braun was ordained in 1915 and his first assignment was to the Mescalero Apache Reservation in 1916.[3]

World War I[edit | edit source]

In June 1918, he was permitted by his superiors to enlist as an US Army Chaplain at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas. He soon saw action with the 6th Infantry Division in one of the bloodiest World War I battles the American troops fought, Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Instead of staying in the safety of the rear, the unarmed chaplain went "over the top" with the first assault and suffered shrapnel wounds to his jaw. Despite his injuries he remained on the battlefield to minister to the wounded and give last rites to the dying. For these actions, Father Braun received the Purple Heart.

Following the war, Father Braun helped construct St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, finished in 1939.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Mescalero, New Mexico - 1975

World War II[edit | edit source]

Braun received orders to report for duty on November 1, 1940 at Fort Sam Houston. He insisted on an overseas posting and was assigned as a chaplain with the 92nd Coast Artillery Regiment in the Philippines. In April 1941, he left for his assignment on the island of Corregidor in Manila Bay. Braun was on hand as Douglas MacArthur was evacuated from Corregidor, he gave the invocation for the inauguration of Philippine President Manuel Quezon on January 1, 1942 in Corregidor, and was present when General Jonathan M. Wainwright surrendered to the Japanese on May 7, 1942. It was Braun who despite the threat of personal harm gained permission from the Japanese officers to bury and cremate the dead and who supervised the work of removing the badly decayed bodies out of the caves of Corregidor for proper disposal.

He suffered beatings, hunger, disease and the accompanying humiliations as a POW. He insisted on saying mass for the prisoners despite prohibitions against such service and eventually won concession for such activity.

Braun was liberated, after 40 months as a POW, at Camp Omori in Tokyo Bay on August 29, 1945. The emaciated priest who stood over six feet tall, had wasted from 195 pounds down to 115 pounds and had contracted diphtheria, dysentery, pelagra and several bouts of malaria.

Post War Life[edit | edit source]

Due to injuries sustained while being held POW, he could no longer serve as a missionary to the Mescalero Apache's. To aid in his recovery, he was sent by the Army to the Marshall Islands where he participated in Operation Sandstone. He next spent two years stationed in Hawaii.

Father Braun came to Phoenix, Arizona in 1949. In 1953 he helped found Sacred Heart Church in the Golden Gate Barrio neighborhood.

Sacred Heart Church Phoenix, Arizona

In 1965 he received the Arizona Medal of Honor and in 1979 the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame award.

He worked as a teacher at St. Mary's High School.

Braun died on March 6, 1983 in Phoenix, Arizona. He was interred at the St. Joseph Mescalero Apache Mission in New Mexico at his request.[4]

Legacy[edit | edit source]

A memorial to Father Braun is located at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza in Phoenix, Arizona. He is often referred to as "The Hero Priest of Corregidor" by those that served with him.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Among the Mescalero Apache: The story of Father Albert Braun, by Dorothy Emerson 1973

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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