Pacific Stars and Stripes,
June 7, 1953
Tokyo, June 7 (Pac.S&S)- The
tale of a young Korean boy, orphaned even before the start of the
Korean war, who has undergone almost unbelievable hardship for three
years in a not-to-be-denied effort to reach the United States, will
have a happy climax this week.
Joseph Anthony, who can't remember the exact year
of his birth, but believes it was 1940, will leave for Seattle by
Northwest Orient airlines Wednesday, on the first leg of his journey
to Boys Town, Neb., his new home. He is the second Korean waif to
begin a new live in the famous boys' home.
"Little Joe" was given his
Christian name by his most recent benefactors, Miss Marjorie Binder,
service club program director, and the Rev. Donald Weer, Catholic
chaplain at Itazuki Air Base, who named him after the patron saint
of missing persons.
Joe has no recollection of parents, relatives,
or his early years, except a vague idea that his father was a coal
miner. His history begins in June, 1950, when he was living in a Seoul
orphanage with 40 other children. He remembers the Korean woman supervisor
as being harsh and stern, and recalls living in one small room and
selling vegetables on the streets for his keep.
When Seoul was invaded by the North Korean army,
Joe and three other boys, separated from the rest in the confusion,
found their way to Taejon, 80 miles to the south. Here they existed
for some time in the usual fashion of displaced persons, begging and
scrounging the bare necessities of life.
The four youngsters managed to escape detection
and capture amid the crowds of refugees when the Reds captured Taejon,
and their outlook improved when U.S. forces recaptured the city in
September. They were befriended by a mess sergeant, who allowed them
to sleep in the mess hall and help with minor chores during the day.
When the Americans moved north, the quartet of ragged orphans moved
Through his newly acquired but hesitant English,
and pictures in magazines circulated among the men, Joe learned of
American ways and became obsessed with the idea of getting to the
U.S. At this time, during his drifting from outfit to outfit, he became
separated from his young buddies.
A friendly Korean interpreter took Joe under his
wing, and sympathizing with the small wanderer's unquenchable desire
to go the States, told him to travel to Pusan and from there to try
and reach Japan, where he might find his way across the Pacific.
The interpreter equipped Joe with a "cover" story
to conceal his true nationality.
He was to tell anyone who questioned him that
he was a former resident of Fukanka, had been orphaned during World
War II by bombing raids, had later been befriended by American occupation
forces and gone to Korea with them, and was now trying to return to
Fukanka to search for possible living relatives.
His benefactor gave him the equivalent of $45
in hwan, and sent him on his way to Pusan. After several delays, including
hospitalization for a leg wound from and overturned truck, which drained
much of his precious money for penicillin, he finally stumbled onto
the U.S. Air Force base at Suwon.
The Air Police took him in and allowed him to
sleep in their tent and eat with them while he was being investigated.
Joe's carefully recalled "cover" story came to the attention of a
colonel at the base, who bundled him aboard an airplane bound for
Itasukl, only a few miles from Fukasaka.
From this point, events moved fast toward the
realization of Joe's goal. He was "adopted" by the 58th Air Police
Squadron while his story was looked into. Miss Binder gave him a daily
job at the Skyline club while he was waiting the outcome of the query,
and Rev. Werr gave him daily instruction in reading, spelling, and
Through the efforts of his two temporary guardians,
he was eventually admitted to the American school on the base, and
placed in the fifth grade, where his teacher, Mrs. Mary Hazen, was
amazed at his zeal for learning.
Although Joe was not pressed to reveal his true
story, his friends, who by now included nearly everyone on the base,
were skeptical because he could not converse in Japanese-supposedly
his native tongue-and his facial features were not typically Nipponese.
Convinced he was among friends, however, in time he revealed his story
to Miss Binder.
Meanwhile, his two guardians had written to Sen.
Homer Ferguson (D., Mich.) in an effort to have a special bill passed
in Congress to allow Joe to enter the U.S. They had already secured
approval from Msgr. Nicholas Wegner of Boys Town for Joe to become
a new resident, if her were allowed to go to America. The senator
assured them he would be glad to help in any way, but told them he
believed Joe could be admitted under the newly opened Korean Immigration
quotas. They applied to the U.S. consulate at Fukasaki, and his visa
was received May 27.
With $55 tucked away from shining shoes in the
Itazuke Officer's club, Joe will at last go "home." He will travel
from Seattle to San Francisco, where he will be met by a chaplain
with whom he became acquainted at the Suwon air base, who will see
that he gets started on his last leg to Omaha.
by Cpl. Dan Lutz