Pacific Stars and Stripes,
Aug. 21, 1952
By Robert Udick
SEOUL (UP)- A chance to romp with 31 Korean war
orphans who are no longer afraid, no longer hungry, has shown me what
can be done and is being done in a few of Seoul's 26 orphanages.
In a clean house, surrounded by a clean, shady
yard that has swings and other playground equipment in it, soldiers
of the Air Force Airways Control Section are running a home for youngsters
who not too long ago were convinced their luck had played out.
One little five-year old, beginning to verge on
the pudgy side, scampered into the arms of Maj. Walter Deal, Montgomery,
Ala. It was hard to believe that a month ago an AACS man had found
her dirty, wormy, sick and starving down to 20 pounds beside a Seoul
Medical attention, a chance to be clean and eat
good food had already filled out her body. But something else put
the sparkle in her eyes. She knew that someone really cared about
her. She had some toys of her own and she had some men in khaki that
came around, played with her, talked words she couldn't understand,
but made her know she was a pretty important person to them.
The situation was the same with the rest of the
youngsters. Some had been there long enough to frisk about, which
is normal for tots that age. Others had smiles a little gaunt, strained
by the task of filling out bone-tight skin with flesh. Even with them
the happiness was convincing, though sobering.
Air Force Lt. Charles Vogel came along for the
visit. He was disinclined to believe that anything good could happen
to a war orphan in Seoul. He thought so because he had found a starved
little motherless girl on the streets of Seoul, had turned her over
to a local orphanage, and then learned the orphanage had tossed her
out in the street again.
He started a search for her. The search ended
when she was found dead.
"She would have loved it here,"
Vogel said. One of the youngsters, laughing, astride his shoulders,
playfully put her hands in front of his eyes while he tried to focus
Finding a place where funds earmarked for orphans
actually end up being spent for the orphans, he soon took off to spread
the work to anyone with an ear and a loose dollar.
The policy of the AACS orphanage, according to
Major Deal, "is to operate an orphanage as a 'middle-class' Korean
home. The youngsters eat locally purchased Korean food and sleep on
mats on the floor like most Koreans. We try to impose our standards
of health, sanitation and diet.
"And when we leave Korea, the
operation of the orphanage will be assumed by the Ewah Women's University,
a Methodist sponsored college. We think we have established a permanent
home and a permanent friendship link between American and Korea."