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Johnny One-Skate

Stars and Stripes, Dec. 16, 1962 ( ? ) Korea

1st Cav.'s Johnny One-Skate Rolls Toward Yule Surprise

 HQ., U.S. 1ST CAV. DIV., Korea (IO) - His name is Ki Sik Song, but he is known to hundreds of American soldiers who visit the 1st Cav. Div.'s Recreation Center No. 4 as "Johnny One-Skate."

Johnny is a 13 year old Korean orphan.  Both his parents lost their lives near Mok-po in the Korean War.  Somehow Johnny made his way north to Munsan-ni.  He doesn't remember when he got here, but says it was "a long time ago."

Johnny became a member of the Munsan-ni Boy Scouts of Korea Assn. and still lives at the Scout home.  He also found job as a shoe shine boy at Recreation Center No. 4, where he became known to thousands of soldiers - because he greeted them all like long lost friends.

In November Johnny began leaving his shoe shine stand during lunch hour.  Then he was observed on one of his lunch time jaunts.  The Korean youth was seen skating through the village of Sonyu-ri, outside the gates of Recreation Center No. 4.  On his right foot was a roller skate, on his left, only a badly worn tennis shoe.

Once Johnny perfected his ability to skate on one leg, he began skating around the compound.  He never seemed to be bothered by the fact that one of the skates was missing, though a gash on his chin and a bruise on his forehead bear mute testimony that he sometimes has trouble with his balance.  The boy was quickly dubbed "Johnny One-Skate" by his American friends.  They termed him "the inventor of the world's smallest scooter."

"He never seems to be troubled by the fact he has less than others," said PFC Robert Scholp of the center's film exchange.  "He makes the best of what he's got and never complains."

 But 'Johnny One-Skate' is due for a surprise.  Soldiers who frequent the recreation center have shipped in for a present for their young friend.  A new pair of roller skates will be his on Christmas morning.  And from hundreds of American soldiers to one young Korean orphan will come the sincere wish: Merry Christmas.


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