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Charlie Two Shoes

After the communists took over china, relations between the Chinese and American governments deteriorated. Charlie Two Shoes lost touch with his marine friends. His association with Americans and the fact that he was a Catholic who spoke English made him a suspect as a U.S. spy. Carolyn Weaver picks up our story.

Charlie lived in a state of fear because of his efforts to come to America. He tried to participate in the Korean War hoping to defect to the Americans, but Chinese authorities turned him down. During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 70s, he refused to criticize America, and as a result both he and his wife lost their jobs. Later, Charlie tried to rob a bank to get money to go to Hong Kong; this landed him in jail. He spent seven years in prison. When he got out, he was placed under house arrest, with no legal rights.

“I was very cautious to keep away from activities in school, so when people went out and did things, I went to the library instead.”

But Charlie remembered the promise his marine friends had made him and believed that one-day, he would fulfill his dream of going to America.

NATURAL SOUND: (Charlie singing Marine Corps Hymn)

In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon visited China, and the two countries normalized diplomatic relations. This turned out to be a turning point in Charlie’s life. The Chinese government even encouraged Charlie to get in touch with his old friends.

“For many days and many nights I spent thinking, trying to remember their names, faces and addresses. It just so happened that a couple of addresses came to my mind. (So,) the first letter was returned, but I didn’t give up. I wrote another letter using the address that I thought was right; (it turns out) it was right. William Bullard”

“One morning I went to the mailbox, and received a letter. It was from Charlie Two Shoes. I hadn’t heard from him in 32 years.”

NATURAL SOUND: (William Bullard reading letter from Charlie)
“Dear William, do you still remember your little buddy Charlie from China?”

“Tears overflowed, I had wanted to hear from him so bad; I was over thrilled.”

NATURAL SOUND: (William Bullard reading letter from Charlie)
“I am now 45 years old, have been married for 19 years, with two boys and a girl.”

“I immediately phoned the boys I knew from Marine Corps. But our neighbors told me bring him on; we’ll help you.”

As soon as he heard from Charlie, William Bullard started building an addition to his house, to prepare for Charlie’s arrival. And his old marine friends contacted the U.S. Congress, the State Department, the White House anybody who would listen to Charlie’s case.

“God, you have to help me, bring me to the States, where the marines have promised me. I don’t care how. That was my prayer; I never forget this prayer.”

Finally, in 1983, Charlie got on an airplane for America. He admits he was a little nervous.

“I knew that these people were not going to be the same as 32 years ago. Back then they were all youngsters, 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds; we had a lot of fun. But now, everybody’s grownup.”

Thirty years of separation ended in warm embraces. William Bullard stood quietly, wondering if Charlie would recognize him. Slowly, Charlie walked towards him.

Charlie became the center of media attention. But he was only in the United States on a tourist visa.

“People suggested that I apply for political asylum, but I refused. I don’t support communism, but I wanted to leave politics out. If I applied for political asylum, I would become an enemy of the Chinese government and my family would never be able to come to the U.S. I decided that I’d rather go back.”

Charlie renewed his visa until it couldn’t be extended again. Once again his dream seemed to be fading; he needed a miracle.

“The Marines said to me, ‘Charlie, you just don’t worry about it, we won’t let you go back.’ You know the marines are stubborn people.”

And the Marines came through on their promise. On September 23rd, 1985, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese announced a special provision.

“The President talked to me, I remember then talking with the immigration officials to see what authority there was to assist Charlie Two Shoes and the Marines. It turned out that I had the authority as the Attorney General to provide a parole for humanitarian purposes that would allow him to stay in this country.”

NATURAL SOUND: (Charlie getting flag from Senator)

Two years later Charlie’s family joined him in America.

“It is a true American dream; I never knew it would be this good. I dreamed of becoming an American because I believed in it. I sacrificed for it. I’ve always been loyal and faithful to this dream. ”

There was a lot of hard work for the family once they settled in the U.S.. But today Charlie’s children are living proof of the dream he had 50 years ago. His son Jeff is the chef of the family restaurant, while his other two children Susan and David have become doctors.

And in April of 2002, Charlie saw his dream come true. He received a special honor, he was inducted as an honorary U.S. Marine.

At the base in Camp Lejeune, Charlie met with old marine friends from his Tsingdao days, as well as friends from his American School in Tsingdao.

General Sattler, Commander-in-Chief of the second Marine Division, presented Charlie with his honorary Marine Corps certificate.

“Someone had to accomplish something rather extraordinary to earn the title an honorary United States marine. Charlie is the 18th recipient since the program started in 1992.”

After 50 years of politics and controversy and personal hardships, Charlie Two Shoes can now call himself one of the few, the proud, a marine.

Caroline Weaver, VOA-TV