August 18, 1954
WITH THE FIRST MARINE AIR WING, Korea, Aug. 18 (UP)-Mario,
the Korean orphan with the Italian name, walked slowly and haltingly
today for the first time in nearly a year on an artificial leg provided
by his leatherneck flyer friends. Mario-no one knows where he got his
name or where he came from-lost his right leg early last winter when
he slipped and cut it on ice and it had to be amputated below the hip
after becoming infected. First Wing surgeon Dr. Patrick F. O'Connell
performed the operation on the friendly youth, who became a great favorite
of the fliers while he was at the Catholic orphanage at Pohang, his
home since 1951.
O'Connell took a collection among the men of Hq.
Squadron and soon enough money was raised to buy Mario an artificial
leg in the U.S.
The leg came, but it was too big and had to be sent
back. Last week the leg returned, but this time it was Mario who was
too big. He had grown.
Commander J.F. Gearan of Waltham, Mass., the squadron's
Catholic chaplain, remembered the fabulous Seabees, whose exploits in
World War II and in Korea were legend among the marines.
Seabee carpenters, headed by Donald E. Patterson,
Topeka, Kans., went to work. In an intricate "operation," they lengthened
the leg the necessary inch and a half and made it so that it can be
adjusted to the boy's growth. Doctors fitted the leg. A frightened
Mario took one step. Then another. Then he smiled.
Pacific Stars & Strips