When my brother David Clark was in Korea, on one patrol he found a small, 10-year old Korean boy. The child was an orphan who had lost both parents in the war. He was starving.
Dave threw him over his shoulder and after finishing the patrol, carried him back to his pup tent. Carrying the boy wasn’t a problem since he weighed less than 60 pounds.
Dave got the child some food from the mess hall and carefully fed him, being careful not to give him too much since he hadn’t eaten in weeks. Gradually the boy recovered and began to eat regular chow. Dave found some old GI clothes from the unit’s Quartermaster and carefully cut them down to fit the boy. He slowly became somewhat fluent in English.
Every morning when my brother would leave for routine patrols, he’d leave the lad food and water to last him. He cautioned the boy to stay out of sight and to hide in the tent, fearing a refugee group might get him.
Slowly, Dave developed a plan: Knowing he was about to be mustered out of the Army and sent home, he decided to bring the boy to America.
The Orders were cut and Dave was mustered out of the Army. He carefully concealed the boy along with his tailored GI issued clothing inside his duffel bag. A troop carrier transported Dave and hundreds of soldiers to a ship in the harbor. Dave smuggled the lad onboard and carefully hid him. The ship left and about 10 miles out, the little stowaway was discovered during a routine inspection. Dave was confronted with the boy and freely admitted he had smuggled the lad onboard. My brother thought the boy was safe but the Captain ordered the ship to return to port where the boy was left on the dock, alone.
When Dave came home, I got to go through his duffel bag and found the cut down GI clothes. I asked him about that and he told me the story, becoming rather emotional as he spoke.
A year later, Dave made plans to return to Korea and find the boy and make another attempt to bring him to America. Before doing so, he wrote the Successor Commanding Officer of his old unit several letters inquiring about the lad. He gave copious details in his letters.
Finally, a telegram arrived at our old house. It read: “Letters received. Boy KIA month after you mustered out.” My brother never got over the loss.
-james a. clark