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Pacific Stars and Stripes, Dec. 21, 1950

Seoul Waifs Off To Island Haven
Operation Kiddie Car

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 war.

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 tuberculosis."

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 off.

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 plane.

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 Force.

"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 are."




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