Pacific Stars and Stripes,
March 29, 1953
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,
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,
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.