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The photo caption mentions that the clothing was intended for Operation Babylift.
Some of you might rememebr the tragedy that befell a flight out of TSN, Saigon. I was on
Okinawa at the time and knew one of the nurses who perished on that flight. The pain reached
not only those of us on island but all the way back to the States and around the world.
A C-5A Galaxy 68-0218 flew the initial mission of Operation Babylift to bring Vietnamese orphans to |
the US in the few remaining days before the Republic of Vietnam fell. The C-5 departed Saigon-Tan
Son Nhut Airport shortly after 4 p.m. on April 4, 1975. Twelve minutes after takeoff, there was what
seemed to be an explosion as the lower rear fuselage was torn apart. The locks of the rear loading
ramp had failed, causing the door to open and separate. A rapid decompression occurred. Control and
trim cables to the rudder and elevators were severed, leaving only one aileron and wing spoilers
operating. Two of the four hydraulic systems were out. The crew wrestled at the controls, managing to
keep control of the plane with changes in power settings by using the one working aileron and wing
spoilers.The crew descended to an altitude of 4,000 feet on a heading of 310 degrees in preparation
for landing on Tan Son Nhut's runway 25L. About halfway through a turn to final approach, the rate of
descent increased rapidly. Seeing they couldn't make the runway, full power was applied to bring the
nose up. The C-5 touched down in a rice paddy. Skidding for a quarter of a mile, the aircraft again
became airborne for a half mile before hitting a dike and breaking into four parts, some of which
caught fire. According to DIA figures, 138 people were killed in the crash, including 78 children and
35 Defense Attaché Office Saigon personnel.
When American businessman Robert Macauley learned that it would take more than a week to evacuate the
surviving orphans due to the lack of military transport planes, he chartered a Boeing 747 from Pan
American World Airways and arranged for 300 orphaned children to leave the country, paying for the
trip by mortgaging his house.
 Defense Intelligence Agency: Remembering the First Operation Babylift Flight, last updated August 5, 2011.
 Grimes, William. "Robert Macauley, Founder of Humanitarian Aid Group, Dies at 87",
The New York Times, December 29, 2010. Accessed December 30, 2010.
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