Operation Babylift (Vietnam Adoptions 1975)

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Operation Babylift Letters and Stories

Personal stories and letters from those touched by Operation Babylift.

How have you been touched by Operation Babylift? Please send your photos or story to share with others on the website. Write to Allison Martin, at babylift@adoptvietnam.org

Vietnam Babylift Adoptee Now Proudly Serving in the Army

Just want to thank those who were involved during Operation Babylift in 1975. I was born in Vietnam in 1975 and was told that I was more likely an orphan at the time. I was 3 months old when adopted by my parents in the US. I'm 35 yrs now and married with a four yr old daughter and a son who will be born in June 2010. I have served in the US Army for almost 14 yrs and thought it was the least I could do for a country that brought me over and accepted me.

I never have talked too much about my experience mainly because I was so young and that I couldn't remember anyways at 3 months old. What I do know is I was very tiny and malnourished. I was weak and my adoptive mother gave me three bottles each night to feed me.

I am now doing just fine and serving overseas again with the US Army. It is my honor to serve among those who sacrificed a lot and for those who make this country a great place to be in. I plan on telling this story to my kids when they are old enough to understand what happened to me in the past. Thank you.

Jacob Swartout, April 2010

Cambodian Adoptee - Operation Babylift 1975

My name is Valerie Davis Ray. I was part of Operation Babylift in 1975. I was actually born in Cambodia in 1974. Missionaries from Oklahoma brought myself and four other girls over to the United States. After we finally fled Cambodia we landed in Saigon then to Guam then Honolulu.

I hope to return someday. I know I do not have any living relatives as it says from the orphanage. I still would like to see where I am from.

Valerie Ray, March 2010

I Was There - Operation Babylift

I was a Staff Sergeant in HHD 34th Medical Battalion at Fort Benning. I helped process the babies when they arrived there...so long ago. God bless them all. v/r Bob Stephens, Ph.D., March 2010

Looking for Sibling

My name is Jennifer Deitz. I am 28 years old and I live in Massachusetts. My father, Gary Deitz, was a soldier in the Air Force during the Vietnam War and served a one year tour there. While he was there, he fathered a child, a little girl. Before he left to come home, he tried to find the mother (whose name I do not know) to give her his name, etc. so that she may be able to come to the states with the child knowing that the child may not survive. However, he was unable to find her and was not able to give her the information. He never found out if she survived.

It has been about ten years since I found out that I have an older sister and I have thought of trying to find her from time to time but never knew where to start. It wasn't until I was watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tonight where I heard of Operation Babylift and had hope of finding her. I believe she was born in 1971.

Jennifer, January 2010

Panic and Gift - Operation Babylift

My boss, Walker Cisler from Detroit Edison was on the next plane out of Vietnam after the crash. He was there on a last minute Peace Mission for President Ford. My husband and I were looking to adopt at the time and when we heard about all the children coming to the U.S. our secretary wired Mr. Cisler the day before. We asked him to bring us a baby and he wired back that he would not be bringing us a baby at this time and that he wanted to talk with my husband and myself first. He was 80 years old and pure white hair. As he arrived at the Detroit Airport it was televised on the 11:00p.m. news. They had put out a red carpet and as Mr. Cisler came off the airplane he held a newborn baby in his arms and with his other hand escorted a 2year old waving an American Flag. There was a large crowd there and I can remember crying so hard I could hardly breathe.

The next day we met with Mr. Cisler and he explained to us while it was wonderful that we would take one of the babies, he wasn't so certain what would happen to these children in 6 months or even two years. He said we don't know if their parents will decide that they want them back. He said "Mothers ran to that airplane and threw children and babies at them and said "Get them out of here". So he was afraid that I couldn't handle raising a child and then have to give it up a short time later. While I was extremely disappointed we agreed to seek other adoption options. And even that wasn't easy because now everyone who had a "heart" wanted one of those babies. It didn't matter if you had 10 children they still wanted to take one of the Vietnam children.

That being said we applied to The Cradle in Chicago and one year later adopted a beautiful baby boy named Andy.

Fast forward 32 years. I had the opportunity to meet P.Buckley Moss, the artist, and she heard this story and painted a picture called "The Cradle" which shows an Amish mother standing over her baby in a cradle. She offered the original to my husband and I at the art show she was at and said if we ever decided to put it into print with proceeds to go to the Cradle just let her staff know. Well, 20 years later, which was last year we decided to do just that. They made 1,000 prints and Fred and I were invited to the showing and to give a talk about how this all came about. I have since spoken several times.

I always start with the story about my boss, Mr. Cisler and the night he arrived at the Detroit airport with the two babies. He also gave us a complete description as to the conditions and how all the children and babies were placed on the airplane. With nurses, doctors, airmen and women all helping to get these children to the U.S.A. And I can tell you usually everyone is crying by this time.

Last year, after giving this talk in St. Petersburg, FL where P. Buckley Moss has her studio a lady came up to me after and said I am so glad you told the story about the babies and children coming from Viet Nam. It was so moving and I was on that plane. I was a flight nurse. I just couldn't believe it. And we hugged.

I too have always remembered those tiny little ones and those that were helping on that dreadful flight that crashed. It was so very sad. I have many Viet Nam friends that I have met at various times and the subject always turns to the fall of Saigon and that dreadful night. I lost many classmates in Viet Nam myself and always remember them as well.

While giving my speech a worker from The Cradle was there and she told me about someone she knew that was trying to produce a movie called "Operation Babylift" but that they were looking for funding in the Chicago area. I also met a guy from Viet Nam last year that told me he was on that plane with my boss.

If you know anything about the movie I would love to see it. Stephanie sent me the trailer last year and I could hardly watch it. As I watched a mother stand back and tell her little 3year old. It's o.k. just go up the stairs and you will be fine. He kept looking back at her. It was heartwrenching.

I truly appreciate everything you have done to keep this at the for-front of everyone's minds and hopefully it will remind them how awful war can be.

Linda M. Haughey, December 2009

Fussy Baby and Missed Flight

Hi, I was on a Pan Am flight and was just curious the flight # and exact day/date of my departure from Saigon. I was wondering if you all had some sort of record of those things. I was on the same flight as another baby, Douglas Wojtowicz and, if I'm correct, his aunt was a big part of Operation Babylift. Our flight was definitely after the C5 Galaxy as we were supposed to be on that one but Doug was fussy that day and we missed our flight.

Jenny Januszewski, August 2009

Babylift Experience - Clark AB Volunteer

Babylift began when I was a DoDDS teacher at Wagner High School, Clark Air Base. I had volunteered to care for a child (any child) who would come in on the first flight from Saigon. I was sitting in the Clark AB Officers‚?? Club dining room with friends the evening that the plane, a C5, was scheduled to land. When the word got out that the plane had crashed, I was stunned. I only remember whispering: "It crashed?" I was devastated, thinking of all the children on board. Somehow Clark recovered and prepared to receive subsequent Babylift flights.

I remember the first one after the tragic accident. It came in after dark, but the flight line was lit up for TV cameras. We (the volunteers) entered the rear of the aircraft, walked through it quickly, and picked up a child - any child. Mine turned out to be a girl of an age I could not determine. She was wordless, scared, and obviously confused. We were bussed to the base gym; I found clothes for her, bathed her, dressed her, and accompanied her on a bus to a mess hall where there was food for her. We spent the night on a mattress on the gym floor.

The things that struck me about her and all the other children I observed were their silence and their distended abdomens, which I was told by the medics was due to malnutrition. According to procedure, I gave my child over to base authorities the next morning to be put on another airplane - going where? I don't know. I think about her a lot, wondering whatever happened to her.

Mary, June 2009

Letter from a Member of the Military Police Assigned to Protect Babylift Children

I had a strange thing happen to me today while I was having a conversation with someone I just met. She mentioned being an orphan brought to the U.S. from Viet Nam as a part of Operation Babylift. She was 4 years old at the time. I was shocked to hear this because I was one of the U. S. Army Military Police that was assigned to protect those children.

She remembered the Military Police who watched over them but especially recalls the greeters at the airport. They were nice ladies with blond hair and blue eyes. She had never seen ladies like that before. They were surely angels from heaven, she thought. God bless you wonderful ladies who were so nice to those children. After 30 years, they still remember you.

I remember how unpopular the Babtlift program was back then. Some Americans did not want these children to be mixed into our society. Others, felt strongly that American children should be adopted instead. The civilians who helped make Operation Babylift a success were not just good Samaritans, they were very brave. In some cases they were risking their lives.

Respectfully submitted,
Joe Fitzgerald

Tu Duc Orphanage - FCVN

My name is John Super. I ran the Tu Duc toddler facility for FCVN in 74-75. I coordinated efforts in Denver at twenty second and Downing streets during Operation Babylift. I often wonder about "my" kids. I also have never forgotten about the Vietnamese staff I had. I often wonder about retaliation against them. So many ripples in the pond of the birth of a single child during war.

Today is Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all "my" kids who made it out of that hell hole and are enjoying turkey dinners with their families.... John

Clark Air Base - Operation Babylift Volunteer

I remember the day of Operation Baby Lift like it was yesterday even though it is over 33 years ago. I had a baby only 4 months before this day and she was a healthy baby. I was asked to volunteer to take care of the children and adults that were coming from Vietnam. I was proud to be part of this. I saw so many children with so many diseases and abnormalties. I cried and tried to make them comfortable and feel loved. They were all so frightened as most of them had none of their relatives with them.

I remember sitting there feeding a little boy and rocking him until he finally fell asleep. His body was trembling and shaking so fast. I also sang to him and even though I knew he didn't understand the words, he seemed to enjoy it and he quieted down. After 12 hours I went home for a little while and hugged my daughter and realized how blessed I was. I went back after a few hours and spent many more hours trying to help as many people as I could.

I do remember the first flight that came out of Vietnam that didn't make it. I remember Clark Air Base in total silence over the shocking news. Well I just wanted to write and say I still think about all these children and wonder when I am walking the streets in upstate New York if any of the Vietnamese I see could be one of them.

Thank you,
Cheryl Gordon, August 2008

Benning Babies Babylift

From 1973-1976 I served in the U.S.Army at Ft Benning,Ga. .... was part of the 43rd engineer Bn,36th Eng Group. In 1975, I volunteered to be a part of what was called "Benning Babies". We helped gather Baby food and items for the children coming to Fort Benning from Vietnam.

I was 20 years old. As my wife and I stood at Lawson Army Airfield, we were overwhelmed at the sight of those little babiies coming off the plane, many being carried in cardboard boxes, there little heads peering over the top... We felt special that day for being a small part of a great need. God bless you with his quietness and confidence in all you do. Sincerely, David Maragni Psalm 37:4

Caring for Operation Babylift after the Crash

A staff car arrived at our home on base - Clark Air Base PI - April 1975, the driver handed me a note requesting that I report to the flight line, board a C5A introduce myself to American teenager Linda Adams escort her from the plane pass (avoid) reporters and take Miss Adams to safe house i.e. Base Guest House and stay there until further notice.

That was my introduction to a remarkable young lady Linda Adams. My report read that Linda was a very mature - mentally - physically and emotionally strong 18 year old. Considering what she had just been through she was remarkably stable.

Linda shared with me that she had helped her Mother and others carry children onto a plane (C5A) to transport them to safety. During takeoff the back door blew off with such force that virtually everyone's clothes had been ripped off. Linda had been sitting next to her Mother - Linda asked "how could she have died and I live being so close together."

When escorting Linda from the plane the day after the horrific disaster she was wearing a simple dress three times her size, she explained that people watching the take off ran into the rice field after the plane fell to help those in need, someone took the dress from a suitcase and handed it to her.

During the two hours we shared together Linda spoke of her family in San Francisco, and how her Mother and Linda herself came to work with the children.

The room phone rang announcing that someone would be replacing me shortly. I asked permission to take Linda to our home on base - I was told that she was to be transported ASAP to California. We hugged goodbye.

For days after we bathed - fed - sang to - hugged - laughed and cried with the children of Operation Babylift... and the truth of these words become very real and personal:

Humans are at their very best when things are at their worst

To Linda I say God Bless you child job well done.

To all of the Children: many blessings during your Life's continued journey.

We are currently in Colorado and would like to meet with others in our extended family of - Operation Babylifters. I am currently working with soldiers and families dealing with PTSD.

From De Martin, sent by Hugh Williams

Operation Babylift C5A Survivor Linda Adams

I was an 18 year old dependant of an American DAO worker living in Saigon and being evacuated on April 4th, 1975. My mother moved there in 1973. I then went there after high school, to work with orphans and be with my mom. The unthinkable happened. I am representing the women of DAO and all that were aboard the ill fated C5-A orphan airlift, at a ceremony on May 22, 2007 at the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here is the statement that I plan on making.

I arrived in Saigon in February of 1975. My intention was to join my mother, Barbara E. Adams who was already living there while working for the DAO. I had hoped to volunteer with the orphanages in helping the children in any way I could. However times were getting worse everyday. On April 4th, 1975 my mother came back to our apartment and asked me to please pack one suitcase and get ready to be evacuated while helping to escort Vietnamese orphans to the United States to loving and waiting families. I had not yet really experienced Vietnam, but was more than happy to escort the orphans to the US. We helped to board all of the children onto the C5A. It was a very happy time. Everyone was so happy knowing that these children would soon be in the loving arms of their parents, parents that were waiting so long for them….no one knowing what was to come that day. My mother and I were upstairs in the troop compartment caring for very young babies while all of the other women of DAO were downstairs helping the other children.

As we know, the plane was ill fated.. Once the parts of the plane came to a stop, the few surviving adults where I was helped to bring the surviving infants to safety by placing them in helicopters for transportation to the hospital. I myself was then placed on a helicopter and while sitting at the hospital, I saw my mother’s body come in along with many of her co-workers. They had all perished in the crash along with many children. I was numb - not believing what had just happened. I was in a strange land, alone….My mom was gone. I was evacuated again the next day, escorting more Vietnamese children to safety. We flew to the Phillipenes where something very unusual happened. They thought I was a Vietnamese Orphan. (That is a story all of it's own.) As I looked around and saw the hundreds of young children sitting on cots, just like me, I felt the pain these children must have been feeling. What (horror)! In a strange place, knowing no one. They were, as I was yesterday, in a strange land, knowing no one, not knowing what was to happen to them. At least I knew that I had a father and stepmother waiting for me in San Francisco…They had no idea what was happening to them.

I was then recognized by some military personnel and taken to the appropriate officials. I then flew out of the Philippines the next day gladly escorting another flight of children to the US. We ultimately landed at Travis Air Force Base north of San Francisco. My father and stepmother met me there and many very happy parents and guardians met there children there for the first time. And the children, having gone through all of this, met their parents.This again was a very happy time during a very difficult one. I currently work for a non profit adoption agency in the Washington DC area and really understand how wonderful it is to build a family. I see many children placed in loving and caring homes and I see many parents waiting anxiously for their sons or daughters to come home to them from all over the world. I also have two wonderful sons of my own, that I cherish everyday of my life.

Babylift Adoptee's Wife Says Thank You

I am so glad to know that there is someone out there that is involved in and cares so much about the the babylift of 1975. I care about it myself as well very much my husband is a result of the bbaylift of 1975. He was adopted by a family in 1975 and maybe one day we might also adopt a child from vietnam.

Erica, August 2008

Operation Babylift Adoptee Learns About Her Heritage

My name is Nikki Moir and I was adopted from Vietnam in 1975. I was born in Vietnam on November 26, 1974. Not until today have i ever sat down and looked on the computer about what my life was like prior to arriving in the United States. I doubt it is because I was selfish and didn't want to know, it was more that I am so very happy with my life that i may have been scared about what my life may have been like.

Looking and learning about my life has taken a different turn in the last few days. My mother-in-law was asked to write a story about her daughter-in-law who was adopted from Vietnam. In September there will be a Vietnam War Memorial dedication in our state capital, Pierre. So this has sparked some interest. So we have been digging through pictures and gathering articles. I did not know until today that there was an "Operation Babylift". My dad has always said that it was a very big deal, but I just assumed it was because it was such a big deal for him that everyone should feel his pride. And it isn't that he was trying to hide things either. I just never asked questions before today.

I googled airlift as I heard this term in an article that i had read today. And to my surprise there are many article about this. I found www.adoptvietnam.org and read article about the airlift and read peoples stories. I had no idea how many babies were taken and given new homes. I was amazed. This explains why even today when I say who I am people always say I remember when your parents got you and how proud they were!

I just thought that I would take time and write and thank you for all you do to continue to let people know what that day was like in April 1975. Nikki Moir #467

Adoptee Searching for Information on Babylift Flight

My name is John and I was adopted by American Family in New Jersey. I currently live in Garden Grove Ca. What a great website you have! I am trying to find the flight I was on when I came to US. All, I know flew from Saigon to Philippines with a delay there then to San Francisco after another delay I was on TWA to Chicago then Philly. I believe from what my mother has told me was I was on the flight right after the crash on April 4th. Thank you for your time. Please look at this website http://www.baolanh1975.com/

John, May 2008

Fort Lewis and Operation Babylift

I was an NCO wife at Ft.Lewis, Wa that spring. I worked the 6PM to MIdnight shift at the temporary quarters for the orphans on North Ft. Lewis. We had armed MP escorts, concertina wire. We wore long pants and longsleeved shirts, covered our hair. We just tried to keep them bathed and dressed and fed. There were wounds to attend to as well. The civilians in the neighboring areas around base were very angry about the flights coming into McChord. They seemed not to care that all the children had American fathers. There were snipers positioned in the ditches along I-5 where it splits Main Fort and North Fort. I don't remember how many nights I worked, or the names of the women who worked with me. It just seemed that there was not enough time to get them all out of Saigon before it fell. The planes landed 24/7. There was an elaborate check point system set up. I've not researched this event too much- there are so many mixed emotions attached to it. I'm just curious if there are any print articles about the part that Ft. Lewis played in the Operation. I would be interested in reading them. I don't really recall how many wives there were- but it was a lot. My husband was in Headquarters/Headquarters Company, 3/5 Air Cav. Thank you, Sherri Mckee

Operation Babylift Papers

Hi. My name is Tonya Heldt. I was adopted in 1975 by a couple in the United States and came from Vietnam. I know very little about what happened and my parents don't really seem to know anything either. I have all of my original documents (which I am sure are forged since I know that a lot of that was done back then) and some pictures and medical records that I came with when I was adopted. I have asked Vietnamese speaking people to translate and they have told me that the place on my birth certificate is non-existent today or probably never existed. I am trying to find out anything I can regarding my history. March 2008

Operation Babylift Letter about Base Operations, Clark AB
Col. Claude L. Branson Jr. USAF ret

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a retired 06 living in Ft. Worth. I was the Base Operations Officer and Chief of Airfield Management at Clark AB during the entire evacuation of Saigon. I worked 16-18 hours a day for months and NOTHING moved on the airfield during that period of time without my knowledge and permission. I was MG Leroy Manors personal pilot in the North American T-39 as an additional duty. I consider myself as the corporate memory of that entire saga as it pertains the Clark operation. MY wife was very much involved in the endeavor as well, taking the babies as we received them, naked in apple boxes and getting the little critters into a warm bed in the base gym after the doctors had examined them.

Lt/Col Jimmy Wills asked me to go to Saigon with him on the ill fated C5A. It took me 15 minutes to get to the aircraft which had taxied to the runway because I had to fetch my helmet and flight gear from my home. He radioed me that the mission had received a sense of urgency message and they did not have time to open the door to let me in but fret not because they were going again tomorrow. I was disappointed because I wanted a piece of the action. (Old B-52 pilots are like that.)

As you know Jimmy did not return. He was found on the lower deck with a baby in each arm. I could go on about the carpetbaggers who smuggled dope, people and gold bars into the island.C-130 crew chiefs got $15,000 per person near the end. One afternoon President Tue's DC4 with his personal pilot and family viloated PI airspace and landed without permission but sans him. What a mess that was. They had just enough petrol left to fill up a zippo. 3rd Air Division wanted to run the show from their command post on the hill but I was up close and personal with the armed guards in the aircraft that confronted me when I opened to door. CBS was filming this and the crew was claiming immunity because even though the Status of Forces Agreement clearly delineated that the base was under US control, the Philippine liaison officer did not see it that way because their F5 aircraft were buzzing the field. Just thought that my experiences and first-hand knowledge would be of interest.

Tu Duc Toddler Facility for FCVN

My name is John Super. I ran the Tu Duc toddler facility for FCVN in 74-75. I coordinated efforts in Denver at twenty second and Downing streets during Operation Babylift. I often wonder about "my" kids. I also have never forgotten about the Vietnamese staff I had. I often wonder about retaliation against them. So many ripples in the pond of the birth of a single child during war. Today is Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all "my" kids who made it out of that hell hole and are enjoying turkey dinners with their families....John. November 2007

Operation Babylift Letter From A Cast Member of Miss Saigon

My name is Dianna Collins and I am a cast member of "Miss Saigon." For the past 2 hours, I have been reading your web pages all about the Saigon "Operation Babylift" and I am horrified to admit that I never knew a thing about it. I was born in 1972 so I was too young to understand the Vietnam War when it was happening and I was not taught about this war (or any war, for that matter) in school. What a disgrace. The schools of America really let down their citizens by choosing to hide this very important part of our history.

Being a cast member of Miss Saigon has been such an eye opening experience for me. I am Caucasian but I play several Vietnamese roles throughout the show. (I have Asian features). Every night, I have to climb a fence, screaming my head off, begging the "Americans" not to leave us behind, all the while facing a large helicopter that is being loaded with "American troops". Each night the emotion of it is very great and I can only imagine how horrific that must have been for the citizens of Saigon.

The young lady playing our "Kim" is a true bui-doi. She was born in Vietnam in 1973 of a Vietnamese mother and G.I. father. Janine was adopted out of a Vietnam orphanage when she was 6 months old. There is a number in the show called "Bui-Doi" and during it, photographs of bui-doi children are flashed up on the screens throughout the theatre. Many of them are of Janine in her orphanage. The sights are horrific and even thought I have done this show 8 times a week for many months now, the cast still cries for these children.

Thank you for educating me and I wish you all of the best. I will be sure to pass along your link so the rest of the cast can educate themselves so we will have a better understanding of what we are singing about.

Son of a Man Brought out in Operation Babylift

My son Anton is now seven. His father was brought out from Vietnam in 1975 in the operation babylift. His name was Danchai Putansorne. Anton will do a family tree at school next year and I was hoping to have some background information on where his biological parents came from. Danchai has lost his birth certificate and doesn't know where to start looking for his bilogical parents. Australia

Thank you Rosemary Taylor

My name is Vong Me Lo, I was born in Vietnam in 1970 and thanks to Rosemary Taylor, Mme Gertrude and their team, I am still alive!

I am now a French man.

After 37 years, I have decided to find out who was my biological mother - Vong-Nhit-ZÍnh- and find out if she is still living. Educate in the Lac-Dao orphelina in Phan -Thiet until 1973, the official papers of my adoption are all mentionning the name of Rosemarie Taylor.... Who save my life......


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