A US Marine Rescued a Kitten That Survived the Fighting at Bunker Hill

Photo Credit: Sgt. Martin Riley / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Sgt. Martin Riley / Getty Images

Amid the chaos and devastation that defined the Korean War, a small glimmer of hope emerged in the form of an orphaned kitten rescued from the intense fighting that occurred at Bunker Hill. From August 9-September 30, 1952, the US 1st Marine Regiment engaged Chinese forces in the region, with a large part of the engagement taking place between August 11-15. With heavy enemy losses, it was declared a United Nations (UN) victory.

Against all odds, a two-week-old kitten, a sibling and its mother survived the battle. Supposedly, a coalition soldier shot latter because she was “yeowling,” but the US Marine Corps covered this up to prevent bad publicity, saying a mortar barrage caused the animal’s death. The other kitten was adopted by a Marine who accidentally killed it in his sleep.

Fortunately, the surviving kitten from Bunker Hill was taken in by Sgt. Frank Praytor.

Praytor called the animal “Miss Hap” because, according to him, “she was born at the wrong place at the wrong time.” He made sure she was fed, giving her canned milk from a medicine dropper, as can be seen in the photo taken by Staff Sgt. Martin Riley. The moving image was included in the February 1953 edition of the All Hands Magazine, as well as numerous other publications Stateside.

When she got older, Praytor shared his cans of rationed meat with Miss Hap.

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The Marine sergeant said in 2010 that she “grew into a big girl who thought I was her father. When I left Korea, I left her in the care of another Marine. When I returned in ’55, she was alive and well.” Miss Hap was left in the care of Cpl. Conrad Fisher, who hoped to bring her back to the United States when the war was over, although it’s unclear if he did.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.