Over two intense weeks in April 1975, some 2,000 children were airlifted out of Vietnam for their safety at the end of the Vietnam War. It was called "Operation Babylift," and it came about as a directive from President Ford after the North Vietnamese Army captured Saigon. Ford designated a chunk of a "special foreign aid children's fund" to fly these babies out of Saigon – at great risk to the babies and the crew.
"Operation Babylift" was an amazing effort to get these children to safety, but it came with its own perils. Crash-landings, murky legal statuses, controversy, and unsafe conditions enveloped the operation. The first plane out of Saigon, a U.S. C-5 cargo plane, had to crash-land, killing many on board, including the babies flown from Saigon that were on it. Luckily, at the end of the day, it can be said that a few thousand children were saved, and that, if anything, makes the operation a success.
The First Flight In The Operation Crash-Landed, Killing Nearly 100 ChildrenPhoto: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
The Planes Were Filled With Over Twice The Amount Of Babies They Could Reasonably CarryPhoto: National Archives / via Atlas Obscura/No restrictions
The Flights Were Perilous For The Children, Who Often Did Not Have Enough Food Or Blankets
There Were Older Children, Too, Who Weren't So Keen On Leaving Their Home CountryPhoto: National Archives / via Atlas Obscura/No restrictions
It's Possible That Not All These Children Were OrphansPhoto: US National Archives and Records Administration / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
The Chaos Continued Even After The Planes Landed In AmericaPhoto: Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives and Records Center / via Atlas Obscura/No restrictions