Colonel Dean E. Hess

12/6/1917 - 3/15/2015 

Inducted 2005

Colonel Dean E. Hess was a military leader who used his posting to Korea to provide a profound humanitarian service to his host country. After serving as a fighter pilot in World War II, he was recalled to active duty for the Korean War. He was given the assignment of training the Korean Air Force, and flew 250 missions himself. Colonel Hess became aware of the plight of the many Korean children orphaned by the war. He organized an orphanage at the air base he commanded, and soon his men were providing for over a thousand children. When his base was about to be overrun by enemy forces, Col. Hess determined to evacuate the children. In what became known as “Operation Kiddy Car,” all of the children were airlifted to safety. He published his story in a book titled Battle Hymn, which became a movie starring Rock Hudson. The royalties from the book and movie were used to build a new orphanage near Seoul, Korea. This modest hero’s exploits were recognized by numerous awards and an exhibit at the Air Force Museum.