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Chaplain (Colonel) Russell L. Blaisdell (USAF) and the Kiddy Car Airlift.

September 1950 - December 1950

The story of Colonel Blaisdell's involvement in the Kiddy Car Airlift begins well before the actual airlift itself. What is generally unknown is that Colonel Blaisdell was largely responsible for the initial rescue of most of the children when they were found on the streets of Seoul in the months before the airlift. This is the story of the orphans prior to 20 December 1950. The first document is Chaplan Blaisdell's story of those days written in February and March of 1951 and never before published. Two articles in the Pacific Stars and Stripes give us another look at Blaisdell's activities in Seoul toward the end of 1950.

I was reading everything I could find on the Korean War looking for information on the relations of the GIs to the war child. One evening I took up a book published in London in 1952 by Rene Cutforth, a BBC Reporter who had spent several months in Korea. Much to my amazement I found he had actually gone with Chaplain Blaisdell on one of his morning trips to pick up homeless children living (and dying) on the streets. The next morning I called Chaplain Blaisdell to find out if he knew of this publication. He did not so I sent him a copy. Russ explained to me that the British call their chaplains "Padre" as he is referred to in the Cutforth's book.

The photographs of the Seoul Receiving Center were collected in the US National Archives in College Park, Md, in the archives of the Pacific Stars and Stripes, Tokyo, Japan, and from Chaplain Blaisdell's files.

Blaisdell: Orphan Care and Evacuation, Part One.
War Orphans: Fighters Pause to Help the Helpless [Stars and Stripes]
'The Dawn Patrol' Chapter in book Korean Reporter by Rene Cutforth
Fifth Airmen Adopt Whole Orphanage [Stars and Stripes]
Photos of the Seoul Receiving Center.


The Kiddy Car Airlift, 16-20 December 1950

The actual rescue of the children is best presented in a document written by Colonel Blaisdell in March of 1951. Here it is in his own words. Following it are several other accounts of the rescue including the article written by Hal Boyle, Associated Press reporter. Boyle's story of the rescue was printed in newspapers throughout America and resulted in donations of thousands of dollars and tons of material being sent to Chaplain Blaisdell. We include here reports of the events from the time the children left Seoul for Inchon until they were on the planes headed for Cheju-do four days later.

Orphan Care And Evacuation, Part Two by Russell L. Blaisdell
Hal Boyle's Associated Press Article of the Kiddy Car Airlift
Lowell Thomas' Report of the Air Lift
1,100 Korean Waifs Saved by GI Generosity, New York Times, 17 Dec. 1950
964 Waifs flown to Safety, New York Times, 20 Dec. 1950
Waifs of War, Time, 1 January 1951
A Chaplain in Korea by Chaplain Blaisdell.


Following the Airlift, 1951-1956

In the years following the rescue (early 1951 to 1956) but before the publication of Dean Hess' book Battle Hymn many articles appeared in the press about the Orphans Home of Korea, the orphanage founded to house the children on Cheju-do Island, that noted Colonel Blaisdell's role in the rescue of the children.

Korean Orphans' Lift Brings Offers of Aid, Stars & Stripes, Jan 3, 1951
Hal Boyle, (AP), The Island of Orphans, January, 1951
Some Early Photos of Orphans Home of Korea with Blaisdell, Hess and others.
Little Orphan Island, Colliers Magazine, July 14, 1951 with photos.
Air Lift Revisited, 18 December 1951, FEAF Press Release
St. Nick Visits Cheju-do Waifs, Stars & Stripes, Dec. 24, 1952
Hal Boyle's Notebook, San Antonio Light, 25 March,1953
Tots Offer Goodness to Repay Airmen, Stars and Stripes, April 1953
Giftlift Aids Cheju Orphans, Stars and Stripes, Dec 26, 1952


Recent recognition 2000-2003

After the publication of Hess' book and the release of the movie based on the book nothing more was heard of Chaplain Blaisdell in the press until his return to Korea fifty years later in the year 2000 where he was received as a hero and referred to as the "Schindler of Korea.".

"A Christmas Story", Airman Magazine, Dec. 2000
The Return Visit to Korea, January 2000 by Rev. Carter Blaisdell and others.
"If I Didn't Do It The Children Were Dead" The Korea Times, Jan. 2001
"Miracle Worker Returns to Seoul", Stars & Stripes, 29 Jan. 2001
"Mercy Courier Meets His Former Charges," Joong Ang Ilbo, 28 Jan 2001
"War Hero," Las Vegas Sun, 9 Feb. 2001
"Prayer Helped Father to 1,000," New York News, 6 March 2001
'Schindler of Korea,' The Presbyterian Layman, March/April 2001
"Retired Chaplain Remembers...," Valley Focus-Black Mt. News, 23 Aug. 2001
"South Koreans Honor Retired Chaplain" Stars & Stripes, April 2001
Photos of the return visit to Korea, January 2001.
Tom Brokaw, NBC News report on Blaisdell.
Meeting with Susie Allen in Sacramento,  


A Shameful Episode in Air Force History

Under Construction

Interview with Chaplain Blaisdell.
From the book "History of AF Chaplains"
Newspaper article in Richmond, VA
Notes from various sources.
Presentation of the "4-Chaplain's Award" in Bellingham, Washington, 27 July 2003.


Own a Piece of History

We have about twenty copies left of a First Day Cover of the US Post Office Korean War Veteran's stamp issued on July 26, 1985 that has on it an illustration of the Kiddy Car Airlift. These First Day Covers are part of a numbered limited edition and are autographed by Colonel Russell L. Blaisdell. Until they are all gone we will give one to each person who donates $250 or more to the Korean War Children's Memorial Project. If you are specifically interested in receiving this momento of the Kiddy Car Airlift please e-mail the KWCM project to ascertain if any are still left to distribute.



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