Pacific Stars and Stripes, Dec. 21, 1950
By Hal Boyle
SEOUL (AP)- Nearly a thousand big-eyed little Korean
street orphans were flown to an island sanctuary off South Korea Wednesday
in "Operation Kiddie Car," the most unusual airlift of the
Big twin-engine American transport planes landed
at nearby Kimpo airfield to fly the war waifs out of the combat zone.
Truck after truck rolled up loaded with children
and backed up to the open plane doors. There were 964 in all, ranging
in age from six months to 11 years. Most had been saved from gutter
death by kind-hearted American troops who found them wandering or lying
abandoned on the streets of Seoul.
The soldiers had taken them to a child welfare center
established by Lt. Col. R. L. Blaisdell of Hayfield, Minn., chaplain
of the Fifth Air Force.
Scores of small pilgrims of distress were covered
with sores and their bodies were still shrunken from starvation. Some
gestured at their mouths to show their hunger and mumbled "chop
chop." The planes carried a 15 days' supply of ration but the children
couldn't be fed until they were aloft.
"A hundred and two of them are ill-and 24 just
got out of the hospital," said Chaplain Blaisdell. "They have
50 diseases among them-everything from scabies to whooping cough and
Eighty Korean women attendants accompanied the children
and each plane carried a trained American evacuation nurse. Lt. Grace
Chicken of Buffalo, Mo. had volunteered to make the flight on her day
Capt. Mary Wilfong of Selma, Ala., who has evacuated
many wounded troops, watched as one sick child was lifted into the plane.
"Pitiful-they are so pitiful!" she said.
"Its even worse than seeing our own wounded men."
An emaciated small boy called down hopefully to Lt.
Jane Murphy of Milton, Pa.: "Hello, hello. You want good houseboy?"
Lieutenant Murphy smiled up at him and then turned
her face away.
"It makes me want to cry," she said.
Most of the orphans were too weak to show much interest
in their plane ride. Some cried dully, their thin wails all but lost
in the noise of backing trucks. They shivered in their thin worn clothing
as volunteer American airmen gently lifted them bodily from truck to
Chaplain Blaisdell said the orphans would be turned
over to Lt. Col. Dean Hess, one of the great American airmen of the
campaign who is now helping organize and train the South Korean Air
"We want them to have a safe haven," said
Blaisdell. "We just couldn't see these kids stay there and die."
He said that earlier the South Korean Navy had promised
him it would evacuate the orphans on a ship delivering cement to the
South Korean Air Force.
"We were to put the kids on top of the cement,"
said the chaplain. "I waited up three nights for the ship to arrive
at the port-but it never did."
He then asked the American Air Force to help. The
Combat Cargo Command immediately agreed to furnish the planes at the
request of its own liaison officer-Capt. William H. Kerrigan, Los Angeles.
One pilot-Lt. Jim Rafferty of Altoona, Pa., said
before taking off: "We don't want to tell the name of the island
we are taking them for security reasons. I don't know whether planes
as big as ours have ever landed on it. But we are going to get these
kids down safely-you can count on that."
"I've got three kids of my own back home,"
said one officer. "And I hope they'll find a friend to help them
if they ever get in the fix these kids are. But I hope to God they never