Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Ever Happened to Gloria Irene?

My dad served as a soldier in the Philippines during World War 2. He told the following story over Father's Day dinner:

"Our company was sent on a mission toward the end of the war which required us to travel hundreds of miles by foot. We were without opportunity to clean up -- no way to bathe or brush our teeth, no change of clothes, no clean socks. (After three days it didn't matter anyway!)

"We'd been walking for weeks when one of our men wandered off by himself.

"He returned with a little girl in his arms, not much more than a baby. He had found her sitting on the ground near her mother who, clearly, had been dead for days. It appeared that the child had been fed recently, maybe by a Japanese soldier.

"All the men cared about the girl. We got her cleaned up in a little stream near where we were camped and found some way to clothe her. We thought she deserved a name.

"Several ideas were tossed around before one of the guys said, 'Everything we get from the army is considered Government Issue. I think we should give her the initials G.I.'

"But what would the G.I. stand for? We settled on Gloria Irene.

"When the Japanese surrendered a few days later, we were picked up by trucks and transported back to our base on the north end of the island. A medic in our group said that he'd take her to an orphanage back home, one that was operated by his church. That's the last we saw of Gloria Irene."

He's never heard anything else about the little girl who would be in her mid- to late-60s by now. Did she make it to the US? Was she adopted out? Where is she now?

One thing I know -- she made a profound impact on my dad. She is part of the reason he loves kids so much, as anyone who knows him would confirm.

And one more thing. When my parents brought my baby sister home from the hospital, they brought their very own baby Gloria into our lives. The Irene had been replaced by Mom's middle name, but the Gloria was for the precious child who had survived the horrors of war and stolen the hearts of the American GIs.

I wonder what ever happened to her?

1 comment:

Joan Husby said...

What a lovely story! I hope that someone else loved Gloria Irene the way those soldiers did and gave her a good life.