On 27 July, 2003 the Korean War Children’s
Memorial was dedicated in Big Rock Garden Park in Bellingham, Washington.
It was a lovely warm summer day. Special guests enjoyed a lunch in the
garden of the Drake residence located next door to the park. Then everyone
moved to the park to hear the Sun Hak International Children’s
Choir perform under the pavilion structure. The music was wonderful,
the speeches short and the program was over by 3:30 P.M.
Banquet Program, Best Western Lakeway
27 July 2003, Bellingham, Washington
Part One – A Historical Perspective
The first speaker of the evening was William F. Asbury.
William F. Asbury went to Korea in 1951 as the first Field Director
for Korea for the Christian Children’s Fund of Richmond, Virginia.
He was also an accredited war correspondent which gave him access to
parts of the country the returning missionaries and aid workers would
not have access to. He left in 1953 after helping establish a support
program for more than 4,000 orphans in over 100 orphanages
Our next speaker, Link White actually spent time
in a North Korean orphanage. He was able to escape and headed south
where he joined up with UN forces. He flew in from Virginia to share
with us his perception of the American GIs who raised him for five years.
Many, if not most, orphanages were operated by church
related organizations. Bob and Norma Kohls ran the Mennonite Vocational
School in Taegu back in the mid 50s. The Kohls have come here from San
Francisco to be with us tonight. We asked Bob Kohls to tell us about
the GIs and the kids as he experienced it when he was in Taegu.
(Grace Rue) I have known our next speaker, Grace
Rue, since my days in Korea. We first met in November 1952. At that
time she was the Director of the Seoul Sanitarium and Hospital Orphanage.
Over the years more than 1,000 children have been influenced by her
loving dedication to the children of Korea. Here to add her observations
on the relations of the American servicemen and women to the children
that were in her care is Grace Rue.
(Molly Holt) Molly went to Korea to help her dad
with the Holt adoption program that brought the first of over 100,000
Korean orphans to America. When Molly heard that Grace Rue was going
to be here she said she could not miss this opportunity to see Grace
again as “she saved the lives of hundreds of our children.”
Molly has many stories of the relationship of the GIs to the orphans
of Korea and will share some of them with us now.
(Benjamin Kemena, MD) It is interesting to note the
relationships here. Dr. Kemena’s mother was, as was Link White,
an orphan from North Korea. She was evacuated out of Seoul by Chaplain
Blaisdell and spent time in the Orphans Home of Korea on Cheju-do. On
contacting TB she was sent to the Seoul Sanitarium and Hospital Orphanage
where she trained as a nurse. Coming to America for a nursing degree
she met Benjamin’s father, married, stayed and raised a family.
Dr. Kemena is a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado
in Denver and a physician at a local hospital. Today he met two persons
who saved his mothers life on two different occasions in Korea fifty
years ago. Tonight he will comment on Korean values as they relate to
(Dr. Kim Suk San) Dr. Kim Suk San is the President
of the Korea Welfare Foundation which is the successor organization
to the one that Bill Asbury was the first Field Director for some 50
years earlier. They met for the first time here today. Several times
a year Dr. Kim goes into North Korea to assess the needs of orphans
and orphanages in that nation. The Korea Welfare Foundation channels
millions of dollars of aid to the welfare institutions of North Korea
each year. Here to give us a brief look across the DMZ into North Korean
orphanages is Dr. Kim Suk San.
Part II – Honoring those who helped the children.
We begin this part of the evening program with a
special award. At this time General Charles Baldwin, Deputy Chief of
Chaplains, USAF and Chief Master Sergeant Bennett presented to Chaplain
(Colonel) Russell L. Blaisdell, USAF Retired, the “Four Chaplain’s
Award”. The other person named in that award, S/Sgt. Merle Y.
(Mike) Strang, USAF, who served as Blaisdell’s Chaplain’s
Assistant during the time of the rescue, died in 1998 without ever haven
received any form of recognition for his role in that rescue. This posthumous
award tonight changes that. As General Baldwin and Chief Master Sergeant
Bennett had to catch a plane they left the banquet and headed for the
We continued this portion of the program with a certificate
of appreciation to a person who wasn’t even there. We looked for
this individual because his story captures the feelings, the emotions,
the commitment of the American serviceman when faced with children at
risk. Here is the story of the “Unknown Marine” who rescued
a little Korean boy as he was being evacuated from the Chosin Reservoir.
The story published in the Pacific stars and Stripes in December, 1950
was read by Henry Cagey, former Chairman of the Lummi Indian Business
Sergeant Carries Baby to Safety
Also at the Chosin Reservoir at that same time was
George Cagey serving in the US Marine Corps and a neighbor of ours from
the Lummi Indian Reservation. We asked him to receive the certificate
on behalf of his unknown comrade and display it with pride. We also
called on members of the Lummi Ceremonial Drum Group to come forward
with George Cagey to be witness to this act so the memory of it is kept
alive in the tribe.
Throughout America there was a tremendous outpouring
of support for the American servicemen and women as they tried to help
the needy children. There were city-wide campaigns in New York, Chicago,
Pittsburgh, Dallas, Houston, Syracuse and Utica New York and in many
other cities, large and small. Business firms from “ma and pa”
businesses to corporations such as John Deere Company conducted campaigns
to help the children. But American children also helped, in school classes,
in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and even children in an orphanage
in Boston went out to solicit aid for the Korean War orphan. We have
invited a representative of these diverse elements of our population
to be here tonight to be recognized for their contribution to the well
being of the Korean war child and serve as representative of all others
who are not here. We will do this by focusing on one small orphanage
that I knew intimately during my time in Korea, Manassas Manor Orphanage.
Manassas Manor was the name of the little orphanage
of 50 orphans that was created by the men of the 326th Communications
Reconnaissance Company in a community between Seoul and the DMZ. The
orphanage was named for the city of Manassas, Virginia, home town of
the commanding officer of the company when it was created. Citizens
of Manassas helped the orphanage from its beginning and when it closed
they continued their support for “their” orphans in their
new setting, the Seoul Sanitarium and Hospital Orphanage. Here tonight
is Colonel Ulysses X. White, US Army, Retired, member of the Manassas
City Council, to receive from the orphans of that small orphanage their
appreciation for the compassionate aid the citizens of Manassas sent
to the soldiers of the 326th CRC for them.
Eddie Cho has asked for the opportunity to make
a special presentation. Eddie read this letter and then presented Dr.
Drake with a special plaque of appreciation.
Eddie Cho's Letter
Following the presentation of the plaque Robert Rue, another of the
former orphans helped by Drake and his comrades in the 326th CRC, gave
a clarinet recital of “Danny Boy.”
Christian Children’s Fund
As a professional sociologist I am very much aware
that the spontaneous individual responses of our armed forces to alleviate
the suffering of the Korean children was not sufficient to support them
as they grew older and the troops left. Help had to be institutionalized
and structured in a manner that could be sustained over time. Korea
was blessed with the presence of a remarkable organization, the Christian
Children’s Fund of Richmond, Virginia. The first CCF representative
to Korea was Dr. Verent J. Mills whose daughter is here with us tonight.
He was followed shortly by the first person to hold the role of Korean
Field Director, Bill Asbury. Later, for a short period of time, Bob
Kohls served as Interim Director and now, 50 years later what began
as the CCF - Korea is called the Korea Welfare Foundation of which Dr.
Kim Suk San is the President.
Before we close this evening’s program I would
like to ask that my wife, Mary Ann, and my sons Todd and David stand
up and be recognized. In many ways they have been impacted by my experiences
with the orphaned and homeless children of Korea. They have stood by
me as I ventured to undertake this project and I extend to them my deepest
love and appreciation for their patience, their understanding and support.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: This
has been an historical event. Never before, in the fifty years since
the armistice that ended the Korean War, has there been any formal recognition
of the aid that the American Armed Forces rendered the children of Korea.
We have now closed that gap and as the history of that ugly war is written
and rewritten it will have to include the recognition that even in times
of war the American servicemen and women take with them to battle their
love of children and do all they can to save the lives of those innocent
victims and help them survive.
We end this evening with a prayer
for peace so that all children, no matter where they live, can grow
up in a loving family and a community that is devoid of prejudice in
any form; a community that will help each and every child achieve their
Photos of the dedication