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Press Release

American Veteran Honored in Seoul

Published on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 (11:54 a.m.)

Seoul, South Korea, October 7, 2013. The War Memorial of Korea opened a new exhibit honoring the work of American Air Force Chaplain Russell Blaisdell, a former resident of Las Vegas. The exhibit, a part of a new wing of the museum dedicated to the work of military chaplains in Korea, outlines Blaisdell's work with orphans during the Korean War.

After US troops liberated Seoul in 1950, Blaisdell entered the city to find many children alone and dying on the streets, their parents killed by the bombs and bullets of war. Older children ran after his jeep, begging for a handout of food, but younger children just stood or sat on the side of the road, crying, watching as his jeep passed by. Blaisdell could not turn a blind eye to their troubles and began gathering them off the street, one army truck full at a time. Throughout the fall of 1950, Blaisdell and his helpers rescued over a thousand orphans from the streets of Seoul and as the Chinese began to reinvade the city in December, Blaisdell managed to airlift the children to an island south of the Korean Peninsula where they lived in safety until the end of the war. Pictures of his work with the children, a magazine article from the time period and the Chaplain's communion set are included in the exhibit.

On hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony was South Korea's Defense Minister, Kim Kwan-Jin, and the American Eighth Army's Command Chaplain, Chaplain (Col) Robert H. Whitlock. Also, participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony were two of the orphans. Now eighty years old, Lee Kang Hoon and Yang Yoon Hak took pride in cutting the ribbon on the exhibit that honored the American that saved their lives.

Chaplain Russel Blaisdell was a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada until his death in 2007.

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