Manassas Manor was the name given to
the small orphanage created by the officers and men of the 326th Communication
Reconnaissance Company, an Army Security Agency unit located between
Seoul and the DMZ.
The documents and photos herewith presented
constitute a story of one military unit's response to the dire need
to help the children of war torn Korea. Manassas Manor existed for less
than one year as it was opened in January of 1952 and closed in November
of that year and the children moved to the Seoul Sanitarium and Hospital
Orphanage. Even though the orphans were moved from the small dwelling
near the company motor pool the servicemen in this small unit continued
to support "their" kids in their new location.
Several of the children who lived in
this orphanage found out about the Korean War Children's Memorial project
and came to the dedication ceremony in July of 2003 and met, for the
first time in 50 years, the author of this web site (former Sgt. George
F. Drake) who was a member of the 326th CRC in 1952 and 1953. He was
able to give them copies of these photos. One of them remarked that
Drake gave them back their childhood as they had no photos of their
years in the orphanage.
We begin this story with several articles
that appeared in the Manassas, Virginia newspaper that tell about how
and why this orphanage was created. Only after the Korean War Children's
Memorial dedication ceremony, over 50 years after their publication,
did we find out about these articles. They were sent to us by Col. Ulyses
X. White, USA, Retired, member of the Manassas, VA, City Council. A
year later, in November of 2004, we made contact with other members
of the 326th CRC who were actual participants in the decision to create
the orphanage. Here is the story of the founding of Manassas Manor.
||"Manassas Captain's Company Adopts Korean
||"Cpt. Consolvo ... titles
Korean Orphanage 'Manassas Manor'"
||Ltr. from Charles Stephen, one of the founders
of "Manassas Manor" 9 Nov. 2004
||Ltr. fm Chuck Stephen, Dec. 1951, telling
of the horrible conditions of the orphanage.
||Flyer sent to friends in Stephen's home town
calling for help for the orphans.
Photos of the move of the orphans to the 326th
area and their first night in the new site.
||"Manassas Manor, How It Started".
Note on Bulletn Board in company area, Korea.
||12 April 1953 "Manassas Manor is No More"
Ltr to editor when the orphanage closed.
Recently Chuck Kolodjeski, who was a member of
the 326th CRC in late 1951 through about May of 1952, sent me a small
group of photos of the kids at Manassas Manor taken in early 1952.
They predate my photos so I show them here.
Manassas Manor was only a short distance from the
company gate. Here are a few photos I took of the kids and their home
in September, October and November of 1952. Click on the thumbnail
for a larger photo with a description.
Before we moved the children to the Seoul Sanitarium
and Hospital Orphanage I took a photo of each of the children in Manassas
Manor. Here are portraits of 30 of the 50+ residents along with five
of the staff. I don't know if I failed to take pictures of the others
or have since lost the negatives. Frankly, I am surprised I saved as
much as I did.
On 22 November of 2004 I got a note from Jim Ludwig that read as
follows: "I was with Detachment Dog of the 330th CRC. We were
located in the NE corner of Korea a few hundred yards in from the
Sea of Japan. At the end of July, 1953, just before the cease fire,
we were in danger of being over run so we had to evacuate to Seoul.
We were tempory assigned to occupy an area with the 326th CRC. ...
Perhaps you recall when we came in. We brought with us a Korean
boy about 6 to 8 years old who lived with us up North. We called
him "Mike." When we got to the 326th our CO [Commanding
Officer] said we had to put him in an orphanage. He was very upset
and didn't want to go. ... I have six pictures taken [when I visited
him later] which I will share with you and your project."
Among the items that I had in my "Keepsakes
- Do Not Thow Away" box were carbon copies of some of the letters
I had written as Corresponding Secretary of the company orphanage
committee as well as other documents relating to the orphanage. I
even found that I had the negatives of over 200 black and white photographs
of the children, the orphanage and the scenes around the area. Here
are some letters selected from more than a hundred.
||9 July 1952, Letter written by James Smith
who preceeded me as secretary.
||List of the children in the orphanage.
||December 1952, note regarding the Christmas
||Jan. 23, 1953, Ltr. to Bowman Dairy, Illinois
||Jan. 29, 1953, "kids climbing into my
army, hugging me, seeking attention"
||Jan. 31, 1953, "kids starving
||Jan. 23, 1953, "a crying girl at the
barbed wire fence"
April 14, 1953 "Girl Scout Troop"
||April 14, 1953, "Needs of the school"
||April 15, 1953, "Tonight
I had a feeling of elation."
||April 17, 1953, "Each was allowed to
choose but one toy."
||April 22, 1953, "List of packages received."
||April 22, 1953, "Over 500 letters sent
||April 22, 1953, "the guys donated $252
at the pay table this month"
||April 23, 1953, "it is such faith that
keeps us going."
||April 23, 1953, "Disabled American Veterans:
thanks for your donation."
||April 29, 1953, "Ltr. to mother of soldier
who died in Korea."
||May 17, 1953, "This week two GIs start
giving English Lessons."
||May 17, 1953, "My reward is watching
the children get well."
||May 19, 1953, "During the last six weeks
we sent out over 1,000 letters."
||May 22, 1953, "Over 22 parcels from the
people of Schnectedy."
||6 Dec. 1952, "I was deeply moved..."
Here are some of the newspaper articles resulting
from letters sent home by guys in the comany. I include copies of two
"draft" letters distributed to the fellows as suggestions.
||31 Oct. 1952, "Soldier in Korea Appeals
||Dec. 1952 Letters that appeared
in the Utica, NY newspaper.008
||24 Nov. 1952, "6-year old aids Korean
||19 March 1953, "Rotterdam Soldier "Dad"
to 274 orphans."
||Jan. 1953. Draft letter to be sent to home
||7 April, 1953, "Aid for Korean Orphans."
||1 April, 1953, "I Like it here - George
||November, 1952, Draft letter to be sent to
home town papers.
||Feb.-Mar. 1953? "Troops Aiding Korean
||April 1953, "Church asks aid for Orphans."
Utica Tool and Die Company in
Utica, NY ran a campaign for Korean orphanage aid for the 326th
CRC orphanage. Here are a few photos from that campaign.
||7 November 1952, Ltr. from Drake to home town
||1 Jan 1953, copy of letter sent
to 150 persons who sent aid to orphanage.
||27 March 1953, Schenectedy Union Star article.
When I returned home to the 'States and began college
at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, California (January, 1964)
I was elected President of the International Relations Club. The club
organized aid drives for the orphans in the local public school district.
Here are stories about the results of those drives and a few photos.
||1954, "freeze to death before being found.
||1954 "MP College Students
in Second Drive for Orphans"
||7 Jan 1955 "Ten Tons of Gifts for Korea"
||"Pipeline Korea", press release
in Dec. 1954 for College Aid Drive
||Ltr. to School Principals re. Orphanage aid
||28 July 1954, "It is wonderful what all
of you have done for us."
||10 August 1954, "Report on the orphanage."
Photo page of the college drive for
aid for the orphanage.
Half a century later, at the dedication of
the Korean War Children's Memorial in Bellingham, Washington,
on 27 July of 2003 Eddie Cho and Robert Kang, two former residents
of Manassas Manor, came to partake in the activities. Here is
a copy of the letter that Eddie Cho read at the banquet, their
photos and the plaque they presented to Dr. Drake..
||Eddie Cho's Letter
Going back to Korea 52 years later.
In August of 2004 I had the opportunity
to return to Seoul for two weeks and took advantage of that visit
to make contact with two more of the children of Manassas Manor. Eddie
Cho gave me the phone numbers of two of the children and when staying
in the Seventh Day Adventist Guest House in Seoul I asked one of the
staff to call the first name of the two that Eddie had given me. He
was told someone at the guest house wanted to see him. He came that
evening wondering why I wanted to meet him.
I first showed him some photographs
of Manassas Manor orphanage and he looked at the pictures without
comprehending what they were. Then I showed him a portrait I had taken
of him when he was but 11 years old (he is now 63). He looked at that
photo, his eyes opened wide, his mouth quivered and he began to cry.
He jumped up and hugged me, realizing what these pictures were. We
found photos of his sister, now deceased. Of course he had no photos
of himself or her at this age nor photos of the orphanage where he
spent almost a year of his life nor of the SDA orphanage where he
lived many years. I gave him about 20 photographs of himself, his
sister and his classmates in the orphanage. He insisted on taking
me immediately to a local restaurant and treating me to a Korean meal.
It was a very simple restaurant on the second floor of a nearby building
located at the end of a long hall past the beauty salon. The decor
may have been simple but the food was great!
Later in the week he met me at the
gate of the SDA compound and asked what time I would be back that
evening. I told him I would probably return about 6 p.m. He said someone
wanted to meet me. When I returned to the compound that evening an
elegantly dressed woman was there with Mr. So. She was another of
the children of Manassas Manor. She had several large shopping bags
in which she had elegant gifts for me. All three of us went to another
Korean restaurant nearby for another good dinner. She explained that
she studied nursing (the children from Manassas Manor were moved to
the SDA 'Seoul Sanitarium and Hospital Orphanage' where there was
also a nursing school.) She subsequently married a doctor, had several
children who were educated in universities in the US. On leaving she
requested that her name not be posted on my web site or in the newspapers
and that her picture not be identified. Her concern was that she and
her family would loose status in Korean society if anyone knew that
she had been raised in an orphanage. When we parted I gave her a collection
of photographs of herself and 'brothers and sisters' (the other orphans)
in the orphanage where she grew up. Whether she ever shows them to
her family I would be interested in knowing.
The 326th CRC and the men of the
Earlier in this document we presented
photos of Manassas Manor Orphanage and some of the children residents
of our little home for lost children. Here I would like to present
some photos of the men of our military unit, the 326th Communications
Reconnaissance Company. Perhaps these photos and those that follow
on the environment around our unit will convey to the reader what
life was like in Korea in 1952 and 1953. Remember, hundreds of other
military units serving in Korea also were helping the children. This
is an attempt to convey to the reader the situation under which these
men (and, in numerous instances, women) served.
The area near our company compound.
Our unit was located in an area of
large rice paddies near a small village. They had an offal smell about
them. In the not too far distance were mountains where I would go
hiking when I could get away from the company. There one had to stay
on the trails used by brush and wood gatherers or risk being blown
apart by land mines. I was intrigued by the old buildings, grave stones,
the markets and the local folks. Here are a few photos I took of the
area near our company.
Here I post a special request to
my former colleagues of the 326th CRC, the 501st CRG and also to all
membes of ASA Korea to make a donation to this project. You guys were
a shining example of what this project is all about, i.e., GIs helping
the kids. Now help me pay for the construction of the memorial pavilion
honoring you and all the others servicemen and women who, during the
Korean War and the years following, helped the kids in their time
of dire need.