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Pacific Stars and Stripes, July 24 1951

'Adopted' Korean Girl Loves Officer, Now Happy

With U.S. 3d Div - It was tough for Lt. William Doernbach to give up his "adopted" Korean child, but they're both happy now.

After three attempts at parting, "Baby-san," a six-year-old girl, is now fairly content at Taegu's Protestant orphanage. And Doernbach is satisfied to know she's receiving good treatment.

The lieutenant, a 3d Division signal officer from Egg Harbor, N.J., and Baby-san fell for each other the minute they met on a street in Suwon last April.

In the beginning, their story paralleled that of a thousand other Americans who have taken homeless waifs into their custody. Doernbach recalls when he first picked her up, she was dirty and ragged. "I told her I didn't want to see her dirty the next morning," he said, "but she simply shrugged and told me, Soap hava no!" So he furnished her with soap and a brush and she got down to business. She stripped, washed her clothes and put them back on-not minding that they were still wringing wet. "And she scrubbed her feet until they bled," Doernbach remembered.

Everything was going fine with them until several weeks later, when it became evident that Baby-san didn't fit into the military picture. She had to go. Hard as it was, the lieutenant took her to an agency in Seoul which promised to look after her. But at this point, their story changed from the ordinary. Baby-san wasn't satisfied. She missed Doernbach and decided to go back to him. She got "over the hill" without any trouble and worked her way to his headquarters, on the edge of the city. "I hated to take her back, but I had to," he said. "I knew it would be best in the end." Against both their wills, he did take her back. But she was determined. She skipped out and came back to him once more.

The next day Doernbach thought he found an answer to the problem. He heard of a mass party called "Operation Mascot," where children formerly "adopted" by various Army units were being taken in by the Taegu orphanage.

They arrived late at the party but Doernbach saw what was happening- all the children seemed happy with the affair. They were too busy with the gifts and games to be worried about leaving their benefactors.

Not so with Baby-san, it turned out. She took part in the activities, but stuffed her shoes into Doernbach's pockets before doing so - to make sure he wouldn't leave her.

But the time to leave finally came, and again Baby-san didn't like it. As she clung to Doernbach, crying and trying to stop his departure, newsmen's cameras caught the scene. For a few days she was the most popular Korean child in the United States.

But today the story has ended happily. After a few weeks the little girl began to like her new home. Lieutenant Doernbach traveled to Taegu to visit her and gave her a complete new set of clothes - Stateside shoes, a dress and stockings. "She seemed glad to see me," he said, "and parting was not the problem it had been before." Doernbach has no children of his own. He is married and his wife is now residing at Columbus, Georgia.







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