Pacific Stars and Stripes, Dec. 9, 1951
FIFTH AIR FORCE, KOREA-Charity
may begin at home, but at this advanced air base in Korea, the local
population will tell you that it begins in the hearts of the pilots
of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing. The combination of homeless orphans
and softhearted American airmen has been the mixture that pays off for
these children who have felt the fullest ravages of war.
It was quite accidental the way it all started.
Maj. Robert L. Holsomback of Houston, Tex., who
was making an experimental drop of air rescue equipment, observed next
to the landing strip some unusual activity around a fallen tank.
"When we flew back to see the
results of the test, we were amazed to see groups of half-clothed children
literally come crawling out of the earth, " Holsombasck said.
After landing, the Major told his fellow pilots
what he had seen. "They all wanted to take the jeep and see what was
going on," he said. "Children in dire straits can sure ring a bell in
the hearts of pilots."
When they arrived at the spot they found more that
20 children in various stages of undress. Their condition was so desperate
that in spite of the cold, one child had only an undershirt and shorts
for clothing. None of them wore any shoes and they all showed signs
of malnutrition. The children were swarming all over the tank trying
to get material to keep their bodies warm.
A closer look at the area showed that seven children
were living in a makeshift shelter four feet square. The hut was made
out of four 50-gallon oil drums with an earth roof. Outside the entrance,
they burned chunks of tar, which filled the interior with dense smoke
but at least gave some warmth.
The pilots returned to the base where they immediately
spread the word of the youngsters' plight. Led by Lt. James F. Byers
of Bend, Ore., they pooled their efforts. They cleaned the children
up, gave them a warm meal, and took them to a nearby orphanage.