Symposium Seeks to Correct Record on Operation Kiddy Car

An interesting panel was recently held in Korea that commemorated — and attempted to correct the history on — Operation Kiddy Car, the US military’s evacuation of thousands of Korean orphans during the Korean War.

The operation and the autobiography by Dean Hess have been previously discussed, again when Hess died in 2015. The recent panel was held to try to re-emphasize the role of Chaplain (Col) Russell Blaisdell, whose role some feel has been unfairly ignored:

Blaisdell, his assistant Staff Sgt. Merle (Mike) Strang and South Korean social workers collected children from the streets and “saved many orphans from near-certain death,” according to an Air Force account of the operation…

Blaisdell…persuaded Col. T.C. Rogers — the unit’s director of operations and one of the last officers in the city — to arrange an airlift involving 16 C-54 transport planes.

The chaplain pulled rank and commandeered trucks to rush the children and staff from the port to the Gimpo airport…

Decades ago Blaisdell declined to weigh in on his diminished role portrayed in the movie based on Hess’s book, seeking instead to focus on the saved lives — the ultimate goal of their operation.

Regardless, Hess — a Christian preacher turned fighter pilot — and Blaisdell — an Air Force chaplain, appropriated government resources to nearly single-handedly execute a religious humanitarian operation that saved nearly 1,000 children.

Were they to have done the same thing in today’s Air Force, if they weren’t court-martialed, there would be at least one critic of military Christians demanding their heads.