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Orphaned Boys Trek to Safety

THE 2D INF. DIV. IN KOREA-Three hundred miles is long way for a pair of six year old feet.  It's even worse for feet only half that age.  Sung Son and Sung Mon lived with their mother in Seoul, Korea.  Their father was dead.  Two days before the Reds poured into the city, their mother died.

Son was only six, but he knew there was no time left to grieve for his mother.  He was the head of the family now, and there was danger.  He took his three year old brother by the hand and led him into the stream of southbound refugees.  Thirty days and 300 miles later, tired soldiers were moving from one front line position to another when they noticed the two small lads sitting in the shade of a tree along the dusty gravel road near Samnangjin.  The next day, going back for supplies, SFC Jose M. Lopez saw the little boys in the same spot.  As he watched, the smaller one took an apple from the larger and bit into it hungrily.

During World War II, Lopez held an entire company front single handed, killing 132 German soldiers.  The action earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Now he was busy killing again.  But at home (Brownsville, Texas), the old soldier had four children of his own.  "And," he said, "these babies were hungry, lost and scared.  We couldn't let them just sit there."

From that moment on, Son and Mon had step-parents-an entire infantry regiment.  They had new names, too.  Son, the elder, became "Curly."  His brother was dubbed "Spike."  Little by little, after the boys had been stuffed with food from the soldiers' mess kits, their story came out.

When they had left Seoul, orphaned and alone, there had been gunfire in the streets.  Mon carried the family savings of 5000 won, about three dollars American money.  It was soon gone, and Mon raided roadside fields, begged and occasionally stole to keep himself and his brother going.  Whenever a train stopped, they climbed aboard.  When it stopped again they got off, and walked some more.  They slept in box cars, in fields, in ditches - anywhere they would be out of the way.  They didn't know where theyt were going.  Then the Mi-kuk soldiers found them.

Big, genial Maj. John Harris, Washington, D.C., 2d Division epidemiologist, examined the lads, and treated Sung Mon for the scaly sores on his head.  He gave the brothers vitamin pills, and treated their cut and bleeding feet.

Today Sung Mon, Spike, wears an Aloha shirt, trophy of the 2d Division's Hawaiian maneuver last year.  It has been tailored to fit.  He also sports a small pair of levis, which "just happened" to be in a major's luggage.  His brother Curly, is dressed in a cut down summer uniform, gift of Lopez.  The proud little refugees refuse to accept charity.  They insist on working to pay their own way, so daily they sweep out the personnel office and empty the waste paper baskets. 

Spike has fastened some of his affection on Sgt. Vance Lee.  "The little guy only knows two phrases in English," Lee said.  "Okay and Thank You.  But he's just like any other baby anywhere in the world, only maybe a little quieter."



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