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GIs and the Kids – A Love Story

by George Drake and Al Zimmerman

The book “GIs and the Kids – A Love Story: American Armed Forces and the Children of Korea 1950-1954” will be available for sale by the end of April 2005. This is the first publication to come out of the research conducted for the Korean War Children's Memorial project. This book is the catalogue of the photo exhibit of the same title that will have its first showing in Las Vegas, Nevada at the MGM Grand on Memorial Day, 30 May, 2005.

The book is 11-1/2 inches tall by 8 inches wide and has forty pages, counting the covers. It includes all 35 panels of the photo exhibit plus a preface by William F. Asbury, an introduction by George F. Drake and an epilogue by Al Zimmerman. Drake did the research and the writing while Zimmerman was responsible for art direction and design. During the Korean War Bill Asbury visited upwards of a hundred Korean orphanages and knew intimately the situation facing the war child of Korea. His preface captures the essence of what this project is all about and we print it here in its entirety.


A scant five years after the 13 million Americans under arms began leaving the battlefields of World War II, GI's were summoned to the Korean Peninsula, a place unknown to most Americans at the time. Soldiers of Communist North Korea, in force and massively armed, moved quickly south with Pearl Harbor-like surprise to conquer the neophyte democracy of the Republic of Korea.

The extraordinary photographs and stories in this booklet tell the story of the war within the Korean War that followed the Communist assault. That internal war was the long battle to save the lives of Korean children from perhaps the greatest concentration of destruction in the history of American warfare. The area of the Korean Peninsula is comparatively small. The Communist armies, including China's, pushed the GI's and their UN allies into a small and compressed perimeter around Pusan in the southern tip of the peninsula.

Then came the allied invasion of Inchon west of Seoul. That enabled the breaking of the Pusan Perimeter and more fierce fighting on the long march north by the GI's and their allies. In the awful process some towns and villages changed hands repeatedly.

The principal victims of this back and forth by great armies were Korean families, especially children. An estimated 100,000 Korean kids were orphaned. Orphanages needed to be created. Medicine became essential. So, too, were clothing and blankets to protect homeless infants from the ravages of Korea's killing winters.

The GI was up to those needs. He and she took responsibility for individual kids. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and even Merchant Marine units "adopted" entire orphanages. American military forces became an army of compassion, perhaps as never before or since.

Privates, corporals, sergeants, lieutenants and colonels sent home pictures of baby Kim or Lee or Shin and thus solicited enormous help from their stateside American families. It was personal help, with gifts of cash or substance accompanied by letters.

At this writing five decades after the outpouring of love and life-saving gifts by American servicemen and women in Korea, the talk of this decade is about family values. Shall we discern in Korea in the early 1950's anything less than manifest and genuine family values? Perhaps the difference between then and now is that the GI back then defined "family" as a global entity, without ethnicity and not necessarily within the boundaries of his native America.

This booklet helps greatly to right the wrong of a notable historical oversight. It displays and chronicles what very young American military men and women did to help the most helpless victims of the Korean War, the children.

William F. Asbury, Editor (retired), Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Field Director, Korea, Christian Children’s Fund 1951-1954

The publication is priced at $15 per copy with a 40% discount for orders of 10 or more copies. Washington State customers will have to pay state sales tax of 8.2% per copy. We will calculate postage costs and post them here as soon as we have copies to weigh.

All income from the sale of the book will be deposited in the KWCM Fund at the Whatcom Community Foundation to help fund Korean War Children's Memorial projects which include the construction of the memorial pavilion, the maintenance and expansion of the web site and further research and publication on this topic.

George F. Drake - 11 April 2005

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