Pacific Stars and Stripes, December
Cheju, Korea (AP)- A new life of hope has begun on
this rugged island for nearly 1,000 war orphans saved from Seoul by
"Operation Kiddy Car."
And today Americans opened their hearts to these
children of disaster in a sequel by the U.S. Air Force to the flight
that rescued the orphans from the streets of Seoul.
Two C-47 transport planes flew through foggy weather
Monday afternoon to land 10 tons of gift supplies for the war waifs
on their island sanctuary, 70 miles off the southwest tip of Korea.
The gifts included several tons of food donated by the Army. There was
also a ton of badly-needed medical and toilet supplies purchased in
Japan with funds contributed by U.S. Far East Air Forces personnel,
and clothing donated by individuals and organizations from all parts
of America. "And this is only a trickle of what we have been promised,"
Lt. Col. R. L. Blaisdell said happily.
Blaisdell, who lives in Fort Worth, Tex., is chaplain
of the Fifth Air Force. It was he who inspired Operation Kiddy Kar,
Dec. 20, an airlift that removed from battle danger these hundreds of
orphaned or abandoned children who had been picked up off the streets
of the Korean capital by kindhearted American soldiers. Since then he
has raised more than $10,000 for their share. The orphans are housed
in the old wooden buildings of an agricultural school on the outskirts
They came running in eager curiosity as the trucks
rolled in form the airport loaded with their gifts.
"Hello, hello, hello," they called. Chaplain
Blaisdell turned to a group of small girls leaning out of a window and
sang to them, "Jesus loves me, this I know-for the Bible tells
The girls laughed merrily and immediately sang back
to him the same song in Korean.
The carefree friendliness of the children was in
marked contrast to the dispirited group that had been flown here last
month. Three weeks of fresh air and nourishing food had given them back
childhood's gift of laughter.
"We have 27 deaths-all children less than a
year old," said the orphanage doctor. "They were too weak
to save. But the health of the children now is generally good, although
96 are still ill. Most are suffering from malnutrition. Thirty-five
have contagious diseases, chiefly whooping cough."
The orphanage would be regarded as shocking by American
standards. The rooms are overcrowded and only those sheltering the youngest
children are heated. There is no fuel available yet to heat the others.
But the 849 orphans are enjoying a life richer than
most have ever known. Chaplain Blaisdell is working night and day to
carry out his own dream for them-a real home where they can be warm
and well clad, and can get the best of schooling. He feels the promised
generosity of American civilians will enable him to carry out the dream.
"The first thing I want is for each of these
children to have two changes of clothing," he said. "And I
want the name of each child marked in his clothing to teach him pride
of ownership and possession."
The orphanage has a staff of 80 native Koreans. None
at present-not even the superintendent or the doctor-receives a salary.
All they get is food and quarters. Blaisdell would like to correct that
situation too, but he says, "the children come first."
By Hal Boyle