Pacific Stars & Stripes, June 25, 1953 
 

Waifs in War's Backwash

 

Special to Pacific Stars & Stripes From PIO, Hqs, Korean Base Section
 
 FOR THE ORPHANS and impoverished of Pusan the battle to hold life and limb together must be won in that city, just as was won the Battle of the Pusan Perimeter. 
 
There is no place else to go.  To the north, the battle to save farms and villages is being waged.  To the weariest, starvation already is a problem.  At the back, there is the sea. 
 
Pusan, formerly crowded with a population of 600,000, now is jammed with more than a million and a half people of which more than 100,000 are "unattached children."   
 
Many of these tattered waifs, separated from their parents during the onrush of the Red armies, do not know whether their parents are alive or lying in one of the many unmarked graves.  Still others saw their parents die. 
 
Here is a summary of what is being done to help these thousands of unfortunates, much of the aid being of a voluntary nature and contributed by men of the "KBS," the Korean Base Section, which is the Army's version of a supermarket merchandising all the tools of war. 
 
The Rusk Mission, which recently completed a study of social and health conditions in Korea, estimated that more than 15 million dollars have been donated by American organizations since the war began.  This figure does not include aid given by the soldiers, their families, or friends.  There is no way of determining contributions by military personnel, but they have been of gigantic proportions and of great value. 
 
One relief operation was begun by the 296th Truck Battalion during the 1952 Christmas season.  Today, it still is showering beneficial results.  The 296th got "Operation Christmas" underway by mailing nearly 2,500 letters to families, friends and organizations back home. 
 
Before Christmas, more than 2,000 packages had arrived from the states.  Letters to three Texas towns brought in seven tons of clothing.  More than 4,000 needy were presented with gifts of clothing, food, and other necessities on Christmas day through this one enterprise alone. 
 
Always, the strongest tug at the hearts of American soldiers comes from the plight of the children. 
 
For sick orphans, a Pusan children's charity hospital has been founded.  Operated and supported by the Masonic club of Pusan, the hospital now treats children from more than 60 orphanages in Pusan.  These homeless are cared for through kindness of American officers and enlisted men bearing the "compass and square." 
 
Walking through the hospital wards, you see the tots, two to a bed.  They are slowly recovering from the shock of having lived too many years in too short a time.  It is a wonder they can smile.  Yet, they are the new generation around which a new and strong Korea must arise.  The Masons are laying a foundation for the future. 
 
Col. Roger M. Crosby, of Boulder, Colo., head of the club's steering committee said: "The only reason for the existence of our club here in Korea is to operate the hospital.  We want to build a lasting monument to American-Korean relationships, and these kids are just that." 
 
In another corner of Pusan, at the Maryknoll Clinic, Catholic nuns minister to the ills of more than 1,800 people daily.  Mothers with babes strapped to their backs, old men hobbling along, young women about to give birth, ill and hungry, wait to enter.  Soldiers donated money and in their spare time erected buildings used.
 
The 434th Engineer Construction Battalion and the 91st Military Police Battalion combined their efforts to aid the kids at the "Good Earth" home.  This orphanage is built on the old boundary line of the frantically held "Pusan Perimeter".  The children's parents were killed during that last ditch stand. 
 
PSS-344