Pacific Stars and Stripes, Dec. 9, 1951

18th Wing Pilots Aid War-Ravaged Waifs

FIFTH AIR FORCE, KOREA-Charity may begin at home, but at this advanced air base in Korea, the local population will tell you that it begins in the hearts of the pilots of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing. The combination of homeless orphans and softhearted American airmen has been the mixture that pays off for these children who have felt the fullest ravages of war.

It was quite accidental the way it all started.

Maj. Robert L. Holsomback of Houston, Tex., who was making an experimental drop of air rescue equipment, observed next to the landing strip some unusual activity around a fallen tank.

"When we flew back to see the results of the test, we were amazed to see groups of half-clothed children literally come crawling out of the earth, " Holsombasck said.

After landing, the Major told his fellow pilots what he had seen. "They all wanted to take the jeep and see what was going on," he said. "Children in dire straits can sure ring a bell in the hearts of pilots."

When they arrived at the spot they found more that 20 children in various stages of undress. Their condition was so desperate that in spite of the cold, one child had only an undershirt and shorts for clothing. None of them wore any shoes and they all showed signs of malnutrition. The children were swarming all over the tank trying to get material to keep their bodies warm.

A closer look at the area showed that seven children were living in a makeshift shelter four feet square. The hut was made out of four 50-gallon oil drums with an earth roof. Outside the entrance, they burned chunks of tar, which filled the interior with dense smoke but at least gave some warmth.

The pilots returned to the base where they immediately spread the word of the youngsters' plight. Led by Lt. James F. Byers of Bend, Ore., they pooled their efforts. They cleaned the children up, gave them a warm meal, and took them to a nearby orphanage.

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