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GI gave shelter to the children of war

The children were "out in the open, sleeping in pallets" until Albert Provost came along.

Published July 25, 2003

For Albert Provost, war had two distinct faces: violence and compassion.

Provost called in air strikes to cover his fellow soldiers, but also helped starving orphans.

Provost's fondest memory of Korea is helping a Catholic priest rebuild a church and care for a band of orphans in the South Korean city of Pusan in 1954.

"We found this priest with Korean orphans; they were basically living out in the open, sleeping in pallets," he said. "It was a very bad situation."

Provost organized a collection to repair a decrepit church and build a barracks for the orphans.

"I don't remember too much about the orphans, whether their parents had been killed during the war or just abandoned, but it felt nice to be able to help."

He said the contributions were enough to put a new roof on the church, patch the holes in the walls and put in a new floor.

"We also diverted a few supplies," he recalls. "But the Koreans did most of the labor."

After the church was renovated, Provost paid for the 12 Stations of the Cross to decorate the interior.

Like many Korean War veterans, Provost had enlisted during World War II, serving in the Navy from 1942 to 1947 aboard a destroyer. He was also stationed at Pearl Harbor and Midway Island.

"I joined right out of high school - I was 18 or 19," Provost, now 80, said.

After the Navy, he wanted to see more of the world, so Provost transferred to the Army in 1948. He served two tours in Korea, followed by tours in Germany and Japan. After retiring from the military, he worked in civilian jobs, including as civil services director of Waterbury, Conn.

He retired in 1980 to Inverness. He and his wife, Marta, have been married 50 years.

"It's about time people recognize there was a war," he said. "I'm sort of disturbed about the attitude of the Korean people these days toward the U.S. We helped them in every way we could. That thing with the church - things like that happened every day, hundreds of times during the war."

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