The Helping of Im Chan Sik

A couple of months back I was searching through box after box for my dad’s military records. At one point I had them all in one place – unfortunately life happened and now they are either scattered amid various file boxes or simply lost, existing no more.

The reason I was looking for these records was that my nephew needed proof showing his Grandfather had served during the Korean War. He entered a ‘American Legion’ contest that involved a sizable scholarship.

After pulling box after file after crate from storage I could only find a few pieces paper from Dad’s life 65-years ago. So as the self-appointed keeper of the family history, shame on me.

One thing I did find was an intriguing typed page that reads: “Translated from an article in the Korean language newspaper Inchon Shinbo, dated 31 January 1954.”

With the fear-mongering news reports about North Korea’s potential to fire a nuclear missile at Guam, Hawai’i or Washington D.C. and all cities in between, I figured now would be a good time to remind ourselves that we are a good nation, based on decent people who are willing to sacrifice time, energy and money to help those in need.

Returning to the typed page from my father’s military records, it comes with a note at the bottom which reads, “In a translation from Korean to English, a direct interpretation is impossible as many words do not follow one-another; so the meaning alone has to be translated.”

“American Air Police Rescue Sick Orphan; Going to Send to Japan for Surgical Treatment,” states the headline in all caps.

“American Air Police, Darby Thomas J. and Jack E. Flick, in the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, found a Korean limping orphan, Im Chan Sik who are starving on roadside beside post two (2), and sent him to the Belgium Hospital in Seoul for consulting doctor in November 1953. They had him enter to the Italian Hospital in Yong Dong-Po about one month after for another surgical treatment. But it didn’t effect a cure completely in spite of spending two hundred (200) dollars. Therefore they are going to send him to Japan for surgical treatment.”

Oh, how I’d love to find a copy of this particular article in the original Korean and then to learn what became of the orphan, Sik.

Oddly, most of us think of the Korean War as being a long past event that was the back drop to the TV show, “M.A.S.H.” And though it was never declared a true ‘war,’ but rather delegated the dubious title of ‘police action,’ the conflict, the deaths, the suffering and the assistance rendered was all very real for a people who needed defending from the oppressive yoke of Communism.

The final sentence in this hidden treasure, that once belonged to my father and written over 63-years ago, pretty well sums up how American intervention in that ‘forgotten war,’ came to be seen by the Korean people, who were forcibly divided into separate countries by the United Nations to prevent further blood-shed. It reads: “It is said that all Koreans who know this fact praise their goodwill to a Korean orphan, and appreciate their friendship to Korean people.”

Thank you Dad, for showing me (and now others) that humanity does exist in the face of war.

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