Moonbeam Kupka

“Here I am a little girl and everybody is carrying things, running and shouting. My mother has a baby on her back. And it’s so hot! My feet are hurting and I’m crying, ‘I cannot walk!’ And my dad says, ‘OK, you can stay there and you can die!’”


As a student dietitian at Seoul’s Konkuk University. Kupka collection

Top left: With her toddler brother, Yoon Sup, during the war. Kupka collection

Top right: Mike and Moonbeam when they first met in 1968. Kupka collection

Bottom left: Graduation day in 1969. Kupka collection

Bottom right: The Kupkas today in Aberdeen. John Hughes photo

Moonbeam Kupka was only 4 when the war began, but her memories are chillingly vivid. Fleeing Seoul, her family was part of “a milling, screaming mass of humanity” that choked the roads. The cries of wounded soldiers and terrified children echo in her mind. “Those memories never fade,” she says. “But we were lucky to survive when so many died.”

At war’s end, her family regrouped and reconnected with relatives feared lost. In 1968, when Moonbeam was a university student, she met a handsome young U.S. Army officer from Minnesota. Slowly, secretly, they fell in love, angering her old-fashioned father. Forty-nine years later, the youngest of Mike and Moonbeam Kupka’s three accomplished children, Johnathon, is the commander of the U.S. Army’s largest battalion. He helped soften a stubborn grandfather’s heart.