Friday, April 9, 2010

April 4, 1975 - April 4, 2010

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

April 3, 2010 - Saigon

I attended a dinner organized by Project Return II: Out of the Ashes, a gathering of Operation Reunite and other returning adoptee groups.
Over Facebook and emails, Project Return II made and sold special t-shirts (above photo) and donated the proceed to Kids Without Borders to support our work with orphans in Viet Nam. This is one of the many 'giving back' projects by the adoptees on this 35th anniversary reunion.
THANK YOU Le Thanh and WELCOME HOME to all.
Chu Son
Reporting from Saigon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In Viet Nam with Operation Reunite

Kids Without Borders Founder Son Michael Pham is in Viet Nam on his annual Spring mission. Every mission to his home country is special to Son Michael, however he expects many memorable and emotional moments on this trip.
April 2, 2010 - reporting from Saigon:
Landed in Saigon almost 24 hours since I left my home. I left 40 degree rainy weather(in Sammamish, Washington) and arrived in 98 degree heat and sunny skies. Tonight I attended a gathering of Operation Reunite, a reunion of worldwide adoptees who left Viet Nam during the final days of the war in April 1975. It has been 35 years since many of these adoptees left and settled in different places around the world. Many are coming 'home' to Viet Nam for the very first time, and some are back with some special purposes. Many have never met each other face to face except on Facebook. I have been working with this group within the last year, supporting them with advise and helping prepare for this special return.
Tonight, lots of hugs and laughter, and some tears. They are ready to begin another journey 35 years after their lives changed and after the tragic crash near Saigon of the very first flight of Operation Babylift.