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Introduction by Link White


Doctor and Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Terry Moore, Jane Russell, Mr. and Mrs. Werner Krenzer, and the rest of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen…

Thank you for being here tonight on this special occasion to pay our heart-felt tribute to you, Chaplain Russ Blaisdell, and to you, Dr. George Drake, for having helped, saved and impacted the lives of so many Korean orphans and street kids during that tragic war in Korea. Generically speaking, we regret that is has taken this long to pay this long overdue tribute and our heart-felt thanks to you two gentlemen for what you have done for us. In fact, I felt so moved by this long over-due special occasion that, to try to generate even a greater media attention to your savior roles that, remembering how the recent case of the run-away bride got so much media attention, I even thought of becoming a run-away groom until I had to quickly scuttle the idea when my lady friend miraculously produced a one-way ticket to a slow, and I mean real slow, boat to China. Till then I had no idea there were still some junks around in operation!

Yes, December of 1950, I personally remember it well – very well. That month I was the sole North Korean kid rescued out of North Korea, as the invading communist Chinese army fast approached my home city of Hamhung. That night, one night before our LST was scheduled to depart for South Korea’s port city of Pusan we spent the entire night on the beach of Hungnam. It was cold. Very cold. Even by the North Korean climatic standard. I knew then what that one GI from Kentucky meant when he told me, “Hot damn, Chesi. It’s so cold out here; I could freeze my nucky off out here!” – one of the first words I learned in English from that 18-year old professor of English!

During our slow back-and-forth convoy from Pusan to just behind the enemy line at the 38th parallel, during which we bivouacked also in Uijongbu, where then-sargeant Drake’s unit was based in 1952, all the way from Pusan to the 38th parallel I saw homeless kids everywhere – from farms, villages to cities, in their characteristic tattered clothes, unwashed faces, and gaunt and limp-looking from malnutrition.

Thus, speaking for all of us once – the little homeless kids and orphans of the Korean War, we can tell you they were unquestionably the most unforgettably horrifying days of our lives. For what you two great saviors have done for us, no amount of our thanks can ever adequately repay our gratefulness to you, Chaplain Blaisdell, and to you, Dr. George Drake.

I, as a former journalist of the Viet Nam War era, always preached to my men, don’t embellish a story – just let the weight of facts and evidence speak for itself. And this is what I wish to do in the cases of Chaplain Russell Blaisdell and Dr. George Drake.

But first allow me to preface it by citing an excellent documentary I recently saw on how one great, gutsy Japanese diplomat by Sugihara, who saved some 2,000 Lithuanian Jews in 1940 by stamping the transit-to-Japan on their exit visas, even though he was flatly and repeatedly to not to do so by his foreign ministry of the Empire of Japan, the result of which cost him his career, even by the post-war Japanese government for his insubordination, forcing him to lead a pauper’s life for the rest of his life. But even to his dying days, he remained steadfast by saying he went by his conscience – and would to it again if he had to.

Today, some 65 years later, it is estimated that there are more than 40,000 descendents and the remnant of the survivors from the original 2,000 fellow human beings Mr. Sugihara had saved. Now, why do I cite that very moving example in our history? Because similarly, based on my mathematical extrapolation, do you realize, Chaplain Blaisdell, that today there are more than 17,000 descendants of those original 950 orphans you had airlifted to safety in December of 1950, one of whom is here this evening to pay her personal tribute to you. And, like that brave Japanese humanitarian, you, too, paid more attention to your conscience and did what you felt was the right thing to do – even at the risking of your own career in having had to disobey orders from the top not to do so, because of the on-going war.

And you, Dr. George Drake, based upon the similar extrapolation, do you realize today that you are responsible for the 178,000 descendants from the original 10,000 homeless kids you had a direct hand in saving or ensuring their well-being. And it would be too astronomical to mention all those descendents from well over 54,000 orphans you had helped feed and clothe from the collections drive you had spearheaded, ultimately bringing in some two million dollars, which in today’s world would be equal to 20 million dollars.

Need I say more? Thank you, Chaplain Russ Blaisdell, and you, Dr. George Drake, from the bottom of our hearts. What you have done, to put it in the modern-day lingo is “some heavy stuff” and everlasting. Without an iota of exaggeration, the residual impacts that you two great gentlemen have on all those that you either saved or impacted will be perpetual. Their offspring and the offspring’s offspring will perpetuate literally forever.

We give you our everlasting thanks.


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