Fighter Pilot who led Operation Kiddy Car Dies

Dean Hess, a retired US Air Force Colonel and fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, died last week at the age of 97. Col Hess was a preacher who left the pulpit to become a fighter pilot, and he was a little-known key to the development of the South Korean Air Force. He was most famous, however, for helping rescue orphans during the Korean War: 

Hess, an ordained minister, was a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel when he helped arrange evacuation of Korean orphans from their country’s mainland to safety on a coastal island, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

He was a significant figure in Air Force history, and his efforts to help Korean children are a “shining example” of the Air Force’s humanitarian airlift capabilities, museum historian Jeff Underwood said.

The effort was known as “Operation Kiddy Car.” Hess wrote an autobiography entitled Battle Hymn, and Rock Hudson played the role of Hess in a movie by the same name.  The book was reviewed here, and is recommended reading.