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.
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.