Crew members of San Diego ship that took in orphaned baby in town for reunion

True story of the USS Point Cruz baby

SAN DIEGO - Anchored off the Korean coast in 1953, the crew of the San Diego-based escort carrier USS Point Cruz was more than anxious to go home after the war ended.

"We were all kind of down in the dumps until Daniel came along," said former crew member Bill McMillen.

"Daniel" is Daniel Keenan, a months old malnourished blue-eyed baby the ship's chaplain saw in a Korean orphanage.

"He got the captain to agree to bend the rules to bring the baby aboard for medical treatment," McMillen said.

The chances of survival for a mixed-race baby in Korea then were slim.

Initially called George, the baby was the center of attention on the ship. There was even a special flag that was raised on the ship's mast.

"The rest of the fleet called us and asked why is there a white flag … it's not in the signal books. It was actually a diaper that said, 'Baby on board,'" said former crew member Bob Day.

A Navy medical officer on a nearby hospital ship, Hugh "Bud" Keenan, took a special interest after seeing George at the orphanage and eventually adopted the baby.

In San Diego for their 22nd reunion, Daniel Keenan said his father told him the story when he was about 7 or 8 years old but that he really did not comprehend it until he started to attend these reunions.

The first one was about 20 years ago and he has been coming ever since.  

"This is a special bond and no amount of time or distance can break it," he said.

And though Keenan is now a grandfather himself, he will never be considered anything but the Point Cruz baby.

"Oh yeah, he's still the baby," said McMillen. "Even when he turns 70, he'll still be the baby."

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