George Drake

“You had to teach them to shout, ‘Kill!’ and shove that bayonet in that bag of straw in training. You didn’t have to teach them to pick up that crying kid.”


“It was August of ’52. I can recall going through Seoul and it was leveled. It was shattered—rubble everywhere. People living in little huts that are put together with whatever they could find.” Drake collection

Top left: An example of Drake’s extensive collection of photographs documenting the compassion of U.S. servicemen and women toward children. Drake collection

Top right: Near his home in Bellingham, Drake built the Korean War Children’s Memorial dedicated to U.S. forces that rescued more than 10,000 children. Drake collection

Bottom left: Over the years, Drake has met orphans like Eddie Cho—just 4 when the Korean War broke out: “They see me, since I took their picture, as the one who saved their lives. So they hug me and cry, and I let them hug me and cry knowing damn well that they need closure. They’re dying to find that person.” Drake collection

Bottom right: Korean War Children’s Memorial, dedicated 27 July 2003. Drake collection

“What motivates a guy to spend thousands of hours of volunteer labor and his own money to develop a national memorial for a cause that most people are totally unaware of? The Korean War is called the forgotten war. You cannot forget what you never knew. My contribution is making the public aware of the phenomenon.

“I was not in a combat unit but rather was assigned to the 326th Communications Reconnaissance Company, which was an Army Security Agency radio intelligence company located a fairly safe distance from the front lines.

“My involvement with the Company orphanage committee was intense. Somewhere I noted that in the first six months I was in Korea I had sent out over 1,000 letters soliciting help for the orphans. I was spending upwards of 20 hours each week on orphanage affairs. This after pulling my regular shifts in the operations tent or guard duty.”