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TOYS FOR ORPHANS-Army personnel at Cheju-do Island unload toys from a C-54 that will be given to the 1,600 orphans on the island.  The toys were contributed by personnel of the Japan Air Defense Force.  (USAF Photo)


'Giftlift' Aids Cheju Orphans

JADF's Presents Flown To Island By Combat Cargo

By A/3C Larry O'Toole


WITH 403D WING, Dec. 26-The (Combat Cargo) joined forces with the Japan Air Defense Force to play Santa Claus to some 1,600 orphans on Cheju Island.  A C-54 Skymaster piloted by Col. Cecil H. Childre, vice commander of Combat Cargo, settled on a broad turf area of the small island 300 miles south of Seoul.  The big plane carried 13 passengers, including Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Russell L. Blaisdell, who was laden with toys for orphans in the 14 orphanages on the island.

THE GIFTS, along with which went $1,600 in cash, had been contributed by personnel at bases from all over JADF.  Known as "Operation Giftlift", the drive was started on a suggestion made by Miss Peggy Harris, JADF service clubs adviser.  It was given impetus by JADF service club directors at (. . . ?. . . ) directors (?) Phyllis Grundmann, Lou Ban Densen, Gladys Martin, and Marge Binder, all of whom made the "Giftlift" flight from Japan to distribute the presents.

Biggest orphanage on the island is known as the Orphans' Home of Korea.  Here the more than 700 charges for whom it cares are trained in the arts and domestic crafts and are taught voice and music by the staff of 72 instructors retained by the orphanage.

COMBAT CARGO and JADF played a major role in founding the orphans' home.  When the Red menace to Seoul became grave in December, 1950, it became imperative for Chaplain Blaisdell to move a center for 1,000 waifs he had founded in the South Korean capital.  The children went to Inchon for shipment to Cheju-do and waited four and one-half days in a small, crowded room for LSTs to transport them.  Seven children died.

IN DESPERATION, Chaplain Blaisdell returned to Seoul and was able to obtain 16 Skymasters to fly the kids to Cheju.  In no time they were in their new home and the incident became famous as "Christmas Kidlift."

The visitors bringing gifts to the orphanage for this Christmas saw the results of "Kidlift".  In one room, children were enjoying Korean song and dance routines; in another, they were skillfully knitting socks and sweaters.  Twenty-one of them were recuperating in a well stocked hospital.



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