April 4, 1975: as the war escalated in south Viet Nam, U.S President Gerald Ford authorized Operation Babylift bringing thousands of orphans from Viet Nam to the U.S. A C5A cargo aircraft (largest plane in the world) arrived at Tan Son Nhut Airport (Saigon) with military supplies. After the cargo was unloaded, the plane was filled with U.S government personnel, their families, and orphans. It became the first flight of Operation Babylift. Fifteen minutes after take off, an explosion forced the plane to return to Saigon. Tragically the crew had to crash-land on a rice field a few miles from the airport. 180 were killed but 78 of the children survived.
April 4, 2010: I arranged for two buses to collect Operation Reunite team members at different pick-up points. we started the day very early to avoid the intense mid-day heat. Our convoy of three buses headed to the crash site for the Memorial Service organized by Sister Susan Carol McDonald, who was involved with Operation Babylift back in 1975. We traveled to an area outside of Saigon City and turned on to a small road, then a smaller road until we reached a small bridge. It was too small for the buses. Everyone then got off the buses and marched down a small dirt road. This led to an area in the middle of a rice field near the site where the plane crash-landed.
View a short video of the Memorial Service, April 4, 2010, site of C5A crash near Saigon:
Reporting from Saigon by Son Michael Pham