Pacific Stars and Stripes, July 24 1951
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,"
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
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.