The Navy’s Baby

The Navy’s Baby
The True Story of George Cruz Ascom

…is finished, and is seeking a publisher.

The Navy’s Baby is a wonderful true story written in third person narrative, and reads like a dramatic novel. A short version of it appears in Chicken Soup for the Parent’s Soul, (HCI Sept. 2000) and for this reason, Chicken Soup for the Soul creator Jack Canfield has generously provided the Foreword. Janet’s collaborator is American writer Dan E. Keenan, who began his life in a war torn village near Inchon Korea at the end of the Korean War. Dan, the grown-up baby in this dramatic tale has wanted to write this book for over 25 years. Because he loved the way Janet treated it for Parent’s Soul, he invited her to write the full length book with him, and thus manifest his dream.

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The Story in Brief:

In July of 1953 just as the Korean War ended, an apparently Caucasian infant called George Ascom ended up in an Inchon orphanage. With 400 children in her care, Sister Philomena knew the sick, malnourished child would not survive, so she called on the American Navy for help. Enter the USS Point Cruz, skippered by American naval legend John T. “Chick” Hayward. After sending his ship’s chaplain Father Ed Riley ashore to investigate, Hayward broke naval regulations and ordered the baby brought aboard the carrier. His 1000 man crew of mostly 18-year-old boys quickly fell in love with “Baby-san” who represented everything they had been fighting for. For three months they lovingly cared for him as he alternated between the orphanage and their ship. They were determined to get him out of Korea and adopted by an American family. But despite superhuman efforts by Father Riley, the needed documents remained elusive.

Then, Dr. Hugh Keenan from an American hospital ship fell in love with George, and decided instantly to adopt him. After an extraordinary drama that included the Skipper’s last bottle of scotch, a card game, and the personal intervention of Vice President-elect Richard Nixon, a jubilant Father Riley finally procured the elusive documents mere days before the carrier sailed for home. The crewmen bestowed George with the title Ib/fc – Infant Boy First Class, making him a member of the crew. In an emotional ceremony, he was piped off the ship with full military honors, a rite usually reserved for VIP’s. The boys knew for sure they would never see this child of their hearts again. Twelve days later Father Riley personally delivered George to Mrs. Keenan in Seattle – a special Christmas gift from her husband, and a new life for a baby boy. The Keenans renamed him Daniel Edward Keenan, the co-author of this book.

In 1993 the men of the Point Cruz held their first reunion. After 40 years, in a tearful and dramatic moment the former shipmates are re-united with “their baby.” Then, at the 1996 reunion in a stunning and emotionally charged moment, with all hands at attention Dan finally gets to meet “The Skipper,” now Vice Admiral Hayward, and almost 90.

The final section of the book, entitled “The Rest of the Story,” is written by Dan Keenan. In his own voice, he updates the reader on each key character, if and when he ever got to meet them, and reflects on what each of these special people has come to mean to him. Over 70 photos collected from many different sources are spread throughout the book to bring the characters and drama to life. Janet and Dan have attempted to not just tell the story, but to peel back the layers of it and by honoring all the men involved, expose the true heart of what has captivated people for over 50 years.

 A little bit more about this book:

Since 1953 there has been consistent media interest in this story; people never seem to get enough. With its timeless theme of human compassion, it remains as relevant today as it was when it happened. With a war far from home, an American naval vessel, and a crew of lonely young sailors as backdrops, it is really a love story filled with kindness, wisdom, compassion, and great humanity. Like all great stories, there is a wrong that needs to be righted, and this story has four amazing heroes who with their combined efforts do just that. Today, just like 50 years ago, young American men and women are being sent into war zones, taking with them the basic values they learned in home, church, and school. At the individual level, many of them try and make a difference wherever they are, in whatever way they can. The Navy’s Baby shows that amidst the horror of war, the human triumph of saving one child does matter, and this great truth can help heal damaged hearts and souls elevating everyone involved, whether 1953, or 2007.

The story is told, the book is complete, and the authors are seeking a publisher.

Stay tuned for further developments!