A U.S. veteran of the Korean War (1950-1953) will meet with a Korean woman 60 years after he helped her receive burn surgery.
The Ministry of Patriots & Veterans Affairs said Wednesday that it found Kim Yeon-soon, 72, after starting to search for her on Jan. 22 at the request of Richard Cadwallader, 82.
Cadwallader was part of the 8th Communications Squadron headquartered in Suwon, about 34 kilometers south of Seoul, in 1953.
He met a Korean mother and her 12-year-old daughter when they knocked on the door of his Quonset hut on a cold winter night. The mother was desperately seeking medical help for her daughter who was severely burned.
He asked a visiting commanding officer from a MASH unit to help get her medical treatment. Cadwallader and his colleagues brought her back to be flown by a helicopter to a military hospital in Busan, about 325 km southeast of Seoul.
A few months later, he was able to see the girl briefly several times.
He wanted to see how she was doing before he died so he sent a video letter to the ministry, asking for her whereabouts.
On a tip in the letter that a local resident in a village in Maehyang-ri, Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, had tried to treat her burn in vain, the ministry went door-to-door in the area while receiving additional information from Cadwallader, and finally found her in a different village in Hwaseong.
Baek Wan-ki, 74, who had interpreted for the mother and daughter at that time, offered decisive information.
“Richard Cadwallader got me snacks every week at the hospital. I waited only for the day he would come. I called him ‘American Father,’” Kim said. “My family did not worry about medical expenses because he provided all the necessary conveniences.”
“I remember Kim’s mother presenting a big hen to Cadwallader as a token of gratitude but he declined it, joking that American soldiers do not eat living hens,” Baek said.
The ministry will arrange for Cadwallader and his wife to meet with Kim and Baek in March as part of an event to invite foreign veterans of the Korean War.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org