Korean War veteran-reunion

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- A Korean War veteran who helped a Korean girl with burn injuries receive treatment at a U.S. hospital 60 years ago will visit Seoul next week to be reunited with her after a decades-long search, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said Thursday.

Richard Cadwallader, 82, was serving as a signalman in Suwon, south of Seoul, in 1953-54 when the then 12-year-old girl was brought to the base with severe burns. The former airman helped the girl receive emergency treatment and then arranged a U.S. military helicopter to take her to receive advanced treatment in the southeastern city of Busan.

Kim Yeon-soon, now 72, was left with third-degree burns from her chin to her waist when a young relative accidentally spilled an oil lamp on her. With limited options in the war-ravaged nation, her mother carried her to the nearest U.S. military installation for emergency treatment.

With help of Cadwallader, Kim was able to get first aid and received much-needed medical care for the serious burns.

Although Cadwallader left the country after his service ended, the veteran said he had always wondered what happened to her and tried to find her.

In December 2012, Cadwallader enlisted the help of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affair when it started a veterans reunion campaign as part of events to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement.

Just months after the campaign to find the "burned girl" was initiated, the veterans affairs ministry in March found Kim in a small town in Hwaseong, Geyeonggi Province, after being tipped off by residents.

Kim said she is excited to be reunited with her benefactor, saying she used to call him "American father."

"My family didn't have to worry about hospital fees because Cadwallader took care of everything," Kim said.

Cadwallader, who now lives in Arizona, said he was impressed by Korean officials' active support to quickly find the girl he has not seen for six decades.

During his six-day visit from March 31, the veteran will receive a plaque of gratitude and visit Kim's house to meet her family and his former base, the ministry said.

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