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Stars and Stripes, June 15, 1954

 

Orphan, 7, Leaves Korea For New Home in Texas

By Sgt. Robert L. Brown

SEOUL, June 15 (S&S)-A seven year old war orphan who has held private "conversations" with General Maxwell D. Taylor left here for Tokyo today with the soft-spoken master sergeant who has adopted him. Little Ernie Joe clung tightly to M/Sgt. Ravil B. Branham as they boarded a transport plane on the first leg of their 7,000 mile trip home to San Antonio, Tex. On hand to bid them goodbye were members of Eighth Army headquarter's 502nd Recon. Plt. of which the 6 foot sergeant has been top-kick and the 3 feet inch lad mascot since last June. The men of the outfit are pleased about the fact that General Taylor often talked to Ernie Joe. The Eighth Army commander, now in the U.S., used to stroll through the platoon area early in the morning or after work.

For the long air trip to his new home, Ernie Joe will be dressed as he has been living-the Army way. He wore fatigues from here to Tokyo and will switch to khakis for the flight to the States. Both uniforms bear SFC stripes, "the kind he likes best," said Branham. But the stripes were a "demotion" from master sergeant stripes on the cut-down fatigues he was wearing when first found walking along a Seoul road last year by SFC. Clarence E. Horton, of the 502nd.

Ernie Joe, who at that time was not as tall as a M-1 rifle, apparently had wandered away from some other American outfit, which had taken him in, said Branham.

The 43 year old sergeant and his wife Dorothy, a childless couple, completed adoption of the pock-mark faced youngster only two weeks ago. After writing his wife, Branham decided last November to adopt Ernie Joe and cleared the maze of legal paper work within four months. While in Tokyo for processing, Branham plans to see Ernie Joe eat some fancy preparations of his favorite American foods-Navy beans, fried eggs and ice cream. In the States, a visit to the zoo is first on the list before Ernie Joe starts school.

 SSS-312


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