DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
POSITION REGARDING CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
WHERE U.S. ARMED FORCES ARE ASSIGNED
The command in Vietnam is not complacent about the morals of the
servicemen and associated activities. In this regard, responsible
military commanders strive to curb the problem at its sources by
making it clear that irresponsible and immoral behavior on the part
of servicemen is never condoned, including the conditions which
tend to induce or encourage immoral behavior and in particular,
where it contributes to the problem of children born out of wedlock.
Separation from family and placement in an alien environment, coupled
with the difference in mores which frequently prevail, are recognized
as conditions which require unusual efforts. Accordingly, special
command emphasis is given to character guidance and other programs
to provide servicemen an opportunity to channel their off-duty activities
into wholesome pursuits. In addition, direct control measures are
employed as warranted. These include such measures as the enforcement
of curfews, off-limits restrictions, bed checks, and disciplinary
actions. Areas and establishments can be and are placed off-limits
by our commanders concerned when such is necessary to protect the
interests and welfare of our servicemen.
Personal conduct of servicemen in Vietnam can be governed by forcible
measures only on a transitory basis. In general, service personnel
are neither more nor less moral than when they enter the service;
unfortunately, some persist in engaging in immoral conduct despite
counseling and advice to the contrary. . . .
We recognize that emotion and compassion often lead to a distorted
view of the magnitude of the problem of illegitimate children by
some persons. Accordingly, the number of such children fathered
by American servicemen overseas is frequently exaggerated. Official
reports from authorities in Vietnam state that the problem there
is not of substantial magnitude. A recent survey of 120 orphanages
with a total orphanage population of 18,000 children indicates a
range of 350-400 children or about 2.08 percent were of possible
U.S. parentage. Another survey of a representative number of institutions
for children in Vietnam shows that children with possible U.S. parentage
account for approximately 2.6 percent of the total. A United Press
report indicated that less than one-half of one percent of the children
in Vietnamese orphanages are thought to be Vietnamese-American.
Similarly, in 1952, when estimates of children of mixed parentage
born out of wedlock in Japan during the United States occupation
placed the number at 200,000, the American Consul General enlisted
the cooperation of the Japanese Ministry of Welfare in evaluating
the true extent of the problem. The Ministry’s subsequent
report placed the official figure at 5,013, of whom 1,000 were born
to parents who were legally married subsequent to the birth of their
child. (Eveland, Virginia D., “Welfare Program for Children
of Mixed Parentage,” Foreign Affairs Association of Japan,
Tokyo, 1956). Again in 1963, allegations were made that there were
about 100 orphan children in an orphanage on Okinawa of whom the
majority were illegitimate children of American service personnel.
However, an official investigation established that, of the 85 children
assigned to the orphanages by the Ryukyuan Government, only six
were of mixed parentage.
The other side of the story often goes untold. We take pride in
the fact that the American serviceman, through his generosity in
all foreign lands, has adopted many of these alien children.