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Pacific Stars and Stripes, Mar 17, 1954


By PFC Bob Myers
Stars & Stripes, Tokyo

A smiling 12-year old Korean youngster and his American soldier-father have cleared the final hurdle in an eight-month struggle to have the boy admitted to the U.S.

It was a struggle marked with snarls of red tape, government refusals, diplomatic conferences, near legal action and above all the overpowering devotion of a man for a boy. Cpl. Robert Elvena, Philadelphia, PA, returned to Japan last week with his adopted son, Lee Jong Churl, after a flight to Korea to pick up the boy. Elvena had obtained a U.S. entry visa from the American Embassy in Korea March 8 after filing final adoption papers on Lee. The soldier and son will continue to the states early in June when Elvena, now stationed at the Yokohama Ord. Depot, is rotated.

Boarding School

Lee has been enrolled at St. Mary’s College, a boarding school in Yokohama, and will study there until he leaves for his new-and first-home in America. Until that time, the two will spend only weekends together, Elvena’s duties and Lee’s schooling preventing closer companionship.

Elvena decided to adopt the boy here rather than wait until his return to the States. He received the final papers February 4 after a trip to Korea and returned early this month to get the boy.

As Dependent in Japan

Now, Lee is in Japan as a dependent. Only stipulation is that he must reach the U.S. before July 8 when his entry visa expires. Once in the States, he'll be allowed to stay.

Lee was one of an untold number of Korean War waifs when Elvena, then a member of the 45th Div., found him on Koje-do in 1952. After a futile search to locate Lee’s family, he took the boy to live with him.



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