This is part two of the story of Jean Fallon, who hosted the North Korean delegation at her Atlanta home during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and the connection to her husband, a Vietnam POW/MIA whose plane was shot down in 1969 over Laos.
Jean Fallon was able to recruit help hosting the North Korean delegation from three friends. Dolores Alfond, chairman of the National Alliance of POW/MIA Korean families, who was also a gourmet cook, a friend from Florida to help with the driving, and a friend from Texas to help with translation.
One day, local South Koreans invited the North Korean mission to visit the Carter Center. A group of school children were also there that day, and an alleged incident of inappropriate conduct occurred between one of the North Korean coaches and a student. The coach was arrested and placed under security.
Jean Fallon decided to call the White House to ask for help with this situation. The idea came to her from the movie “An American President.” She was transferred to the State Department and informed that the Olympic committee would have to manage the problem. The accused man went to court in Atlanta and was sent back to North Korea.
During the Atlanta Olympics, the Good Year blimp often flew over the Fallon home, including the day of the Centennial Park bombing. Fallon remembers the North Koreans reaction. “They were surprised at the bombing and a bit concerned that they might be implicated.”
Initially, Jean’s daughters were not on board with their mom volunteering to allow North Koreans to stay at her home. Cappie was living at home and Jean lived in Atlanta and had a 2-year old daughter. Once the visitors arrived, Cappie decided to stick around for the adventure and Jean ended up joining in as well. Fallon’s daughter Cappie and Dolores Alfond attended the opening ceremonies with the North Korean delegation.
North Korean Olympic judo athlete Kye Sun-Hui won a gold medal during the Atlanta Olympic games. At 16, she was the youngest judoka ever to win a gold medal. Ambassador Kim invited all the athletes and coaches to Jean Fallon’s home to celebrate Kye Sun-hui’s gold medal and her 17th birthday.
Following the 1996 Olympics, efforts to leverage the hospitality of Jean Fallon and her work to help the POWs resulted in an invitation for Jean and Dolores Alford to visit North Korea. They would be joining the sister of a well-known Korean War POW to talk about release of her brother. However, when a North Korean one-man submarine washed ashore in South Korea the North Koreans were accused of spying and the trip was cancelled. Ultimately, when asked about POWs, the North Koreans responded, “What POWs?” Sometime later, that POW was released through China and returned to the U.S.
On June 12, 2012, a memorial service was held at Arlington National Cemetery for Patrick Fallon, designation of Killed in Action, Body Not Recovered.
The POW/MIA flag flies at the Dunwoody post office. September 17, 2021 (the third Friday of September) was POW/MIA Day, a day to commemorate the soldiers.
For information about missing soldiers or to donate, go to www.pow-miafamilies.org, call 703-465-7432, or write to National League of POW/MIA Families, 5672 Columbia Pike, Suite 100, Falls Church, VA 22041.