Air Force Veteran Who Rescued Orphans in Korean War Dies at 97
The movie is Battle Hymn, made in 1957. Youtube Video
CINCINNATI — Retired Air Force Col. Dean Hess, who helped rescue hundreds of orphans in the Korean War and whose exploits prompted a Hollywood film starring Rock Hudson, has died at age 97.
Hess died Monday at his home in Huber Heights, a suburb of Dayton, after a short illness, his son Lawrence Hess said Thursday.
Hess, an ordained minister, was a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel when he helped arrange evacuation of Korean orphans from their country’s mainland to safety on a coastal island, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
He was a significant figure in Air Force history, and his efforts to help Korean children are a “shining example” of the Air Force’s humanitarian airlift capabilities, museum historian Jeff Underwood said.
“What is less well-known is the instrumental role he played in training the fledgling South Korean Air Force,” Underwood said in a statement.
Hudson, one of Hollywood’s top leading men, portrayed Hess in the film “Battle Hymn” in 1957, a year after he starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in “Giant.”
“Battle Hymn” also was the title of Hess’ autobiography. He used the movie and book proceeds to build an orphanage in South Korea, his son said.