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Pacific Stars and Stripes, Dec. 21, 1960

'Flying Parson' Gets Coveted ROK Medal

Seoul-Republic of Korea President Posun Yun Tuesday presented the Order of Cultural Merit to U.S. Air Force Col. Dean E. Hess, the "flying parson" of Korean War fame.

Hess, first American military man ever presented the Korean medal, received it for his humanitarian assistance to Korean children.

The presentation was made 10 years to the day after his Operation Kiddy Car airlifted 1,000 Korean orphans from the communist-menaced Seoul to the safety of Cheju-do Island.

A month before he organized the airlift, the former clergyman who came to Korea as a fighter pilot, had started an orphanage, which now bears his name.

Hess, now head of the Air Force information office in Hollywood, came to Korea Monday with a load of oranges sent to Korean orphans as a gift from the city of Visalia, Cal., and Tulare County citrus growers.

After the ceremony in the presidential palace, Hess was honored at the Bando Hotel by the Korean National Assn. Of Social Workers which presented him a letter of appreciation for his "humanitarian spirit and the love of Christian ideals."

Accompanying Hess was his newly adopted daughter, Mee Wha, a 6-year-old Korean orphan he met for the first time Monday when he visited the Hess Orphanage.

Later Tuesday they left for the trip to Osan AB.

Hess and his daughter arrived at Tachikawa AB, Japan, early Wednesday morning on a Military Air Transport Service flight from Osan. Hess planned to take Mee Wha shopping for American clothes in the BX.

The MATS office in Tachikawa said they expected the pair to leave for the States sometime Wednesday night. They will join Hess' wife and three sons in Los Angeles.

Among the officials and friends present for the Seoul ceremonies honoring the Air Force officer was Penny Defore, as aspiring Hollywood actress who gave up her career to come to Korea as a missionary.

Miss Defore credits Hess, a long-time family friend, with her decision to become a missionary. She is now on the staff of the Hess Orphanage.

Hess' Korean War exploits were depicted in the movie "Battle Hymn."

Hess was a minister in a small town in Ohio but left the pulpit to become an outstanding fighter pilot in World War II, then flew again during the Korean War.

His famous airlift was carried out virtually under the nose of the communist armies streaming toward the Korean capital. He managed to round up 16 planes to fly the children south away from the battle.

S&S Korea Bureau






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