• YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of Where are you? I found you!Where are you? I found you! 1 month ago

    The animal balloon reunion! Chris meets Micah after so many years!

    Coco : Micah, by any chance you are the person Chris is referring to in the attached post?

    Micah: Yes! I thought about him the other day but was having trouble looking him up because we all knew him as J.D. Had no idea he was still in Seoul. Thanks for reconnecting us!

    Coco : Chris you will not believe it but YES!!! Micha Granderson is the Micah that taught you how to make balloons!!!!!!

    Micah: Thank you Coco for making all these amazing connections!
    Hi Mr. Vaia! I was chatting about with my wife the other day and somehow I ended up talking about the ballon twisting we would do at special events. I said “man, I would like to look him up but I only knew him by his nickname J.D.” So glad to be back in contact. I hope we can get a meal together if I come back through Seoul and you are welcome anytime in Tokyo. I’m married and have three children. Always remember your kindness and cheerful smile. You really made a blessing out of those balloons for all the kids. I see you swapped your Korean grandfathers hat for an Uncle Sam topper. Is there a story behind that?

    Chris: Greetings Micah, Our Good Lord gave me a great joy by hearing from you. I always mention how a young child taught me how to make a balloon poodle and with a book – my balloon twisting was started. It remains an enduring blessing to be using this wonderful talent to Help Others in the Name of Jesus. The Balloon Brother name came from several Korean grandmothers who thought a seasoned rascal like me would make people more cheerful. LOL We make weekend visits to charitable organizations and a few during the week. It ties in great with Sally’s evangelism. The outfit evolved to be more universal. Hats were never the comfortable anyway. We hope to see more pictures of your family. Are any of your siblings and parents still living in Asia? We do hope to make it to Japan and visit Camp Zama where we have a memorial bridge for my daughter Jeni. JD was and is still Jeni’s Dad. If we make it, we will also visit New Sanno and hope to meet everyone. Naturally, if you come to Seoul, it will be wonderful to have fellowship. We have a small place near Walker Hill. My memory is pretty poor, but I think I met you a few decades ago at Yongsan and thought you might be in the US Army. Regardless, p[lease give our love to your family. Our Good Lord has blessed you with them and a good career. Grace and Peace, Chris and Eun Young (Sally)

  • Coco Cugat posted an update in the group Group logo of Where are you? I found you!Where are you? I found you! 1 month ago

    Note from Marsha:
    My father was a young MP during the mid-1950’s assigned to Yongsan when he met my mother. Toward the end of his tour, he finally got his command’s approval for their marriage. However, my mother decided she didn’t want to marry and leave her family. After he PCSed to Germany, she discovered that she was pregnant. She contacted him and let him know. He promised he would return and take me back to the United States. She corresponded with him and his family about my birth and sent pictures over many years to let them know how I was doing. He returned after 8 years. I came to the United States in 1965.
    I was born in Yongsan to an unwed Korean mother and an American GI. I realized that unlike many other Amerasian children, mine was atypical story. I was brought up in a Korean family home, unlike so many like myself who were either abandoned or placed for adoption. For this, I will be forever grateful to my halmeoni, since I know my birth brought great shame to our family. Also unlike many of the others, I have always known who my father was and what he looked like from pictures. He, too, did not abandon me either.

    As a Korean-American child, Yongsan Garrison was place that was forever behind some gate that I was not allowed to go past. One day, I decided that I was going to find my father. From the outhouse window from my home you could see the road and the gate leading to the garrison across the gully between the two. One time, my mother held me up to the window and told me that my father had worked at the gate.
    In my mind’s eye, I can still see myself as a little girl walking down the main road I lived by, crossing a bridge over the gully, and coming around the corner to the short road that led to its entrance. When I arrived and tried to get thru the gate, the Korean MP stopped me. I told him I needed to find my dad so I could go to the United States. Of course, he informed me that he was not there and not to come back. It became my daily ritual for awhile to walk to the gate, but not to get too close and have a staring contest with the Korean MPs on gate duty. I finally got thru a gate to the Yongsan Garrison after my dad returned. He took me to the PX to buy a new winter coat and scarf the night before we flew to the United States, leaving my Korean family behind and losing all contact with them.
    I remembered when someone turned 60 in Korean years; it was a special hallmark and time of celebration. I promised myself that I would follow the Korean tradition and return to Yongsan when I turned 60, if I had not returned by then. I will be returning this September, a year later than I anticipated. I am elated that I can finally stay on Yongsan Garrison at Dragon Hill Lodge and go in and out any gate as much as I please. After 53 years, I am finally coming home to Yongsan!

    My main goal is to start looking for my mother and the rest of my Korean family.

  • Coco Cugat posted an update in the group Group logo of Where are you? I found you!Where are you? 1 month ago

    Note from Deborah Marshall on 17tth April 2018

    Here are the details of dad’s story, as promised. I have attached a word document with the outline story, as well as several jpeg attachments from a Saga Magazine article that was run some twenty years ago.

    Each time I read this story, my eyes fill with tears of pride at what these young sailors did so graciously for these little children. My dream and focus is to find any of them that are still living. Particularly Soon-Ok Chang, because she loves those sailors as though they are all her fathers. I feel so proud whenever I read this, and for me, if my dad is her father in her eyes then it makes her my sister in mine.

    My dad and his shipmates were on a two year active service mission in South Korea, and I am advised that one day in the harsh winter of 1951, while they were patrolling numerous islands off the north shore, a landing party were sent ashore to Paeng Young Do. There, close to a graveyard they discovered a ramshack hut, where 20 or so orphaned children were huddled together trying to keep warm from the harshest winter the country had ever known. (Parts of the sea had frozen over. There were young babies as well as children in their early teens. They were hungry and thin, and a couple of them were obviously unwell. There was little for them to eat, and so these young sailors (all around 20-25) sent word to the ship to bring gifts of food and clothes.

    The ship provided dozens of boxes of items to feed them and keep them warm with new clothing. Of course the clothes were far too big for them because all the sailors had to offer was from their own attire!

    In 2000, fifty years after the invasion, Saga magazine ran an article about this story, and were able to locate two of the orphans (by now around fifty years old) and brought them to London to reunite with those kind men who had shown them unconditional love all those years before.

    I would particularly like to trace these two people (or any others who are still living) to unite with them also. The man’s name is Kwang-Il Park, and the woman Soon-Ok Chang said at the reunion that she looked upon those sailors as her fathers, because they had treated her like a father. This being the case, I want to acknowledge her as my sister, so I really want to find her, or any of her family!

    • Her father was on an HMS (Her Majesty’s Ship, a British naval ship) in the winter of 1951 and a landing party was dispatched to Baekryong Island (백령도) off North Korean shore to be met by the orphans,so the story goes.

      I was on the bridge of Korean navy LST (Landing Ship, Tank) 802 in the autumn of 1952 when the LST was carrying Korean Marines to Baekryong island under the barrage of North Korean artilleries fired from 장산곳Jangsan-cape, the nearest North Korean shore line to the island – some 17 km of water.

      I’ve seen often the British frigates and destroyers (painted white) flying the Union Jack patrolling in the West Sea as the HMSs had been assigned to the western sea while the U.S.7th Fleet covered the East Sea (Japan Sea) during the Korean War (1950-1953).

      When we passed each other, the HMS’s British gentleman sailors always signaled with morse light signals “Good morning, sir. What a beautiful morning.” They said even if it was a slightly foggy morning. Well, they were from a misty country.

      I know there had been orphanage evacuations not only from Beakryung island but also Yeongpyong Islands, now located out of the Northern Limit Line off the North Korean south shoreline.

      That’s all I can tell.

      S. Nam, Seoul, April 2

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