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Pacific Stars and Stripes, March 29, 1953

Cold Lad Wins Warm Home Korean Cared for By AF Unit; U.S. Family Starts Adoption Action

By PFC Marvin H. Petal

With Fifth Air Force, Mar. 29- It was the day before Christmas, 1952, and a small Korean boy stood on the dirt road that ran parallel to an American military post in Korea.  Bock Chun Sikhee, 7, looked in through the barbed wire and cried.  It was winter and all he wore were rags.

Cpl. Douglas D. Walden melted when he saw the face of the boy through the fence.  It was the time of good will toward men, so he decided he'd take the kid in and give him a hot meal.  And maybe scrounge up an old sweater so he could keep warm.

Pretty soon it was Christmas Eve, and it was still cold.  Maybe Walden could sneak the waif into Tent 47.  It would be only to spend the night.  Nobody could object to a kid staying the night.  Not this night, anyway.

That was three months ago, and Bock has been a part of the 930th Engineer Aviation Group ever since.  And he's been a part of Walden.

A few weeks ago Walden started adoption proceedings to take his new friend back to the States, but he ran into a snag.  The corporal is 19, unmarried, and lives in Tulelake, Cal. California, like most states, has a law that only married couples may adopt children.

This barrier was short-lived.  Walden wrote his folks about Bock. They were enthused about taking the boy into the family and immediately started through the maze of paperwork.

Two things complicate the situation.  There are no available records of Bock, and Walden has left the topographical detachment of the 930th and has rotated home.

During the months the two were together a little of Bock's history trickled out.  By the Korean calendar he was 8 years old, being considered a year old at birth.  He could write the Arabic numerals to 100 and would do so at the drop of a doubt.  His mother and father had been killed in Seoul and at that time the boy had been committed to an orphanage, later fleeing south with the weary stream of refugees.

Today he's a far cry from the urchin who stood wailing at the fence on that December day.  Eating regularly, he's gained weight.  He has worn clothes which some of the fellows brought him from Japan. Walden's parents regularly send packages of food and clothing. From a bewildered, frightened, and lonely little boy, he's become as robust as the kid next door.

Once Bock was lost for several hours and Walden was on the verge of frenzy trying to locate him.  The youngster was later found calmly exchanging banter with Lt. Col. Claire E. Groves, group commander.

For a while Bock wore captain's bars on his brown cloth cap.  They were removed when he started tossing salutes indiscriminately to all things from a passing ox cart to Pogee, the beige mongrel who lives in Tent 20.

The lad is an ardent movie fan and an exacting critic.  He cheers delightedly through horse operas.  But kissing scenes rate a wry face and the hearty Far Eastern denunciation, "Number 10."

Bock has more friends than anybody in the compound, and he flips a "Ya don't know, do ya?" with all the aplomb of a Brooklyn night.

But he looks forward eagerly to his new home.  While Walden and his parents continue through the labyrinth of red tape,  Bock continues his rounds of the company.  He misses his buddy, but meanwhile there's a comfort in living with his other friends in Tent 47.

He's too young to understand all the book talk about the American way of life.  But he does understand what Walden and his pals have done for him.




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