ST. ANSGAR — A St. Ansgar man was compassionate to the youngest victims of the Korean War while stationed near Seoul. 

"There’s no one that suffers more in war than the children," said Nels Goldberg, 83. 

Goldberg, then a 23-year-old carpenter, was drafted and assigned to the military police. He joined the 728th MP BN, part of the 8th Army, which was responsible for guarding a highly-classified Air Force installation about 10 miles north of the capital that was surrounded by rice paddies. 

He was sent to Korea in March 1956, after the war had ended. 

"We never knew what they were doing, but our job was to make sure the airmen were secure," he said. "We were all alone but no harm was going to come to any of us."

Although there during peacetime, Goldberg said his unit was instructed to leave the area in case of attack, and the installation would be blown up.

He believes that unit is still guarding the same spot today, which is located near the 38th parallel, or the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea. 

The Pubwoon Orphanage, which housed about 60 children, was about three-fourths of a mile away from where Goldberg was stationed. 

"We could see the kids any time we wanted to," he said. "We were always welcome." During a Christmas party, the children sang carols in English and Korean to the soldiers, who gave them a meal and fresh fruit.

His mother and church women in his hometown of Lyle, Minnesota, collected and mailed warm clothing for the orphans for the winter, weather Goldberg said was similar to Iowa. He continued to send clothing to the orphanage two years after he returned home in August 1957. 

The children, however, craved attention the most. 

"What I couldn't bring them didn't compare to me sitting and holding them in my lap," he said. 

His unit even took in a 13-year-old boy, Lee In Soon, otherwise known as Tony, who had no known living relatives. He had been found alone during the war. 

Tony lived in the barracks with the officers, wearing a khaki uniform with master sergeant stripes a village woman had tailored for him. 

"He spent an awful lot of time with us guys," Goldberg said. "He just loved the GIs."

Two years after he returned home, Goldberg received a letter saying Tony had found a grandmother but didn't hear from him again after that. He would be in his early 70s today. 

"When I knew him, he spoke fluent English, so I think he could have gotten a tremendously good job in Seoul," Goldberg said. 

Whenever he visited Seoul — then a city of about 1 million — Goldberg always brought a camera. "You'd never know what you'd see along the way," he said. 

Upon returning home, Goldberg returned to his building career, constructing homes, the bell tower of First Lutheran Church and 14 signs around Lyle and St. Ansgar, one of which was completed this fall. 

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments