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Pacific Stars and Stripes, Jan. 12, 1957

Aid To Korean Waifs Began on Bomb Run

NEW YORK (INS)- Col. Dean Hess, USAF, from Marietta, O., is the son of an electrician. He worked his way into Marietta College and there made up his mind he'd be a preacher.

But he had hardly embarked on his calling-that of a parson in Christian (Campbellite) Churches-when Pearl Harbor was hit. Dean enlisted. By 1943, he was with the Army Air Corps, in England, and moved with it into France after D-Day, serving as an informal chaplain when he wasn't bombing.

A BAD THING happened to him in a raid on the marshaling yards at Kaiserslautern. His bombs hit an apartment house and the building crumbled into dust. He learned later that it had been a shelter for hundreds of orphaned children.

"It left a mark in my mind like a brand," the good-looking black-browed "sky pilot" says quietly when he talks about it.

The years just after the war were brooding ones for Hess. A call to return to the service occupied his mind and helped him. In April, 1950, he was sent to Japan as an information and education officer. By July he was in Korea, assigned to help create a ROK Air Force.

With extraordinary patience and resourcefulness he achieved his goal so well that President Syngman Rhee decorated him with Korea's highest military medal-rarely awarded to a foreigner.

Later, flying on radio directions of a liaison pilot, Hess raked a highway one day only to learn as the plane streaked on that he had fired on refugees seeking asylum, not an enemy column.

Peace of mind began coming to him in 1951 in the fire and terror of Seoul's fall. Preparing to flee with the others, he froze with pity and sorrow to see hundreds of homeless and abandoned children still left in the burning capital.

Hess organized "Operation Kiddy Car," an airlift that took hundreds of them to a shelter in the south at Cheju. Mrs. Rhee found a woman who could manage them, nurse them back to health. Epidemics broke out among the children. Many died. But many lived who would have died.

From that shelter came the Hess-founded organization called Hope, Incorporated-an agency of mercy for needy children. He is to the children of Korea what Father Flanagan was to the boys of Boys Town.

Hess is not free of remorse nor will he ever be free. In his book, "Battle Hymn," his dedication reads: "To those we could not save." He concludes the book with:

"I cannot deny that from time to time I think with longing of a little frame church in the quiet Ohio countryside-perhaps the one at Paw Paw, with its single-ringing bell and its oak-shaded cemetery. Perhaps when I am older, I shall again be its minister-if I feel myself qualified and if the good and simple people of that farming community will accept me in spite of all I have done in an airplane."

Hess' remarkable life has been filmed by Universal-International. Rock Hudson will play his role. The money from it has already been spent at Hope, Incorporated.

By Bob Considine






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