Airborne With Marilyn in Korea

86 year-old George Purifoy of Franklin Park, Illinois, has shared his memory of meeting Marilyn during her 1954 USO tour of Korea with TribLive News.

“It’s 10 a.m., and the breakfast club of old friends meets at a Panera Bread restaurant in the North Hills. They come daily, to share news, discuss current events, drink coffee and listen to stories.

Purifoy, 86, of Franklin Park has many. They’re all there, his wife, Jane Purifoy, explains. But sometimes they need coaxing.

‘Tell the one about Marilyn Monroe,’ she says to her husband.

‘Where’s it start?’ he asks.

‘With Bob Hope,’ Jane Purifoy says.

‘Oh, yes,’ he nods. ‘OK.’

This story is set in Korea, where Purifoy was serving with the Air Force during the war.

Bob Hope visited the troops. He brought Marilyn Monroe. She toured a plane — specifically, Purifoy’s F-84 Thunderjet, a single-seat fighter he named ‘The Marilyn.’

He opened the canopy for her, explained the cockpit controls. She asked for a ride.

Problem was, Purifoy told her, it’s only got one seat. But there was a two-seater on the base, and he could fly her around in that one. So she got fitted for flying gear while George readied himself to take the legendary model, actress and American icon into the Korean skies.

Before they could take off, though, an old, grizzled major stopped him.

‘George, you know, I don’t usually do this,’  the major said. ‘But I’m going to pull rank on you today. I’ll fly her. But all is not lost. You can strap her in.’

‘And I did. She was a beautiful woman.'”

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