was the name given to the mass evacuation of children
from South Vietnam
to the United States
and other countries (including, for example, Australia
, and Canada
) at the end of the Vietnam War
(see also the Fall of Saigon
), during April 1975. By the final American flight out of South Vietnam, over 2,000 infants and children had been evacuated. Along with Operation New Life
, over 110,000 refugees were evacuated from South Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War.
With the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang
having fallen in March, and with Saigon
under attack and being shelled
, on April 3
, U.S. President Gerald Ford
announced that the U.S. government would begin evacuating orphans from Saigon on a series of thirty planned flights aboard C-5A Galaxy
Service organizations including Holt, Friends of Children of Viet Nam (FCVN), Friends For All Children (FFAC), Catholic Relief Service, International Social Services, International Orphans and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation petitioned the government to help evacuate the various orphans in their facilities in Vietnam. In their book, Silence Broken, Childhelp (International Orphans at the time) founders Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson chronicle their request from Lieutenant General Lewis William Walt to help with evacuations and finding homes for the Asian-American orphans.
Flights continued until artillery attacks by North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong military units on Tan Son Nhut Airport rendered airplane flights impossible.
The first military evacuation flight, a C-5A Galaxy cargo plane loaded with over 300 crew, children and adult escorts, experienced an "explosive rapid decompression
" about outside Saigon when the rear ramp and pressure door blew out through the rear of the aircraft (due to a lock failure) and was forced to return to Tan Son Nhut with no flight controls to the tail, and only limited roll control.
The plane could not reach the airport; but instead crash-landed, at about , two miles (3 km) away into a field of flooded rice paddies, killing 138 people, including 127 of the orphans. However, over half of the passengers survived the crash. Most of the infants and adults in the upper deck areas survived. Those in the lower decks, including most of the adult "chaperones", "non-essential" members of the Defence Attache's Office (mainly administrative staff), did not.
News of the plane crash brought widespread attention and sympathy toward the operation and the evacuees in the U.S. and other nations.
- Herrington, Stuart A. "Peace with Honor? An American Reports on Vietnam 1973-75" Presidio Press (1983). 31 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94947. [For an account of the day of the plane crash, see pp. 137-140.]
- Not Quite/Just The Same/Different: The Construction of Identity In Vietnamese War Orphans Adopted By White Parents INDIGO WILLING (nee Williams), Master of Arts by Thesis. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney. 2003 downloadable at http://hdl.handle.net/2100/316