Officer Wins Fight to Adopt Lad Korean Boy Starts For U.S.
By Bill Purdom
Pacific Stars and Stripes,
Sept. 23, 1952
SEOUL (UP)- Ten-year old orphan Rhee Song Wo started a long journey to a new home in America Friday by special permission of President Truman and Syngman Rhee.
The wide eyed, little Korean boy, dressed in a baseball cap, blue jeans and a T-shirt, began his trip to Pusan where he was to leave on a Northwest Airlines place for San Francisco.
Rhee will be met at the airport in San Francisco by the family that adopted him, Capt. and Mrs. Sylvester W. Booker of Fort Benning, Ga., who fought for 18 months through every kind of red tape to bring the child to a new home.
"I'm not afraid," Rhee said as he departed. "I'm not afraid of anything except little girls. When I'm big I'll be afraid of big girls."
His story began 18 months ago when Rhee was brought into the medical company of the 159th Field Artillery Battalion at Kimchon with a badly cut hand.
Booker, whose home is now at the 541st Medical Holding Company at Fort Benning, treated the boy's injury and during that meeting a great affection sprang up between the two.
When Booker was sent home he continued his efforts to adopt Rhee and bring him to the United States.
Finally, Booker got special permission from President Syngman Rhee for the boy to leave.
Then a bill was signed by President Truman setting aside the immigration law that controls entry of Orientals. Little Rhee is now considered by act of Congress a naturalized alien child of Mr. and Mrs. Booker.
Rhee doesn't know what happened to his own father and mother. They just disappeared when the Communists took Seoul. Rhee wandered until he met Booker. Working as an interpreter for the troops of the 159th, Rhee has managed to earn $100 which he is taking with him. The Bookers will drive him from California to their Fort Benning house which, Rhee said, "I will like very much."
HAPPY DEPARTURE-Rhee Song Wo shakes hands with Capt. Stanley D. Waterman, Glen Cove, N.Y., prior to departing for a ship which will take him to his new home in the U.S. and his new parents, Capt. and Mrs. Sylvester Booker at Fort Benning, Ga. (UP Photo-caption)