Jim Clifford’s excellent story, “Vietnam War’s ‘Freedom Birds,’” in the Nov. 18 edition of the Daily Journal recalls a chapter of the fighting in Vietnam that is not particularly well-known. The flight attendants who crewed the military charters to the war zone — as referenced in Clifford’s story — cannot be honored enough for their courage and compassion. Many of the flight attendants were the same age as our young soldiers.

Clifford’s detailed and well-researched story also recalls “Operation Babylift,” as Saigon was about to fall to the Viet Cong, whereby hundreds of flight attendants from the commercial airlines all over the country volunteered to escort orphaned Vietnamese children to safety here in the United States. On the West Coast, many Western Airlines flight attendants become involved in this mission.

Clifford’s story thus reminds us of the essential goodness in everyone’s hearts, even in the most difficult of times, and is a further reminder that pure and selfless love is the strongest and most lasting force in the world in any era.

Michael Traynor


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(1) comment

Dirk van Ulden

As an Airman on the flight line in the US Air Force, 602nd OMS, at Travis AFB from 1966 -1970 I witnessed the kindness of the flight attendants to the military personnel on their way to Vietnam. The military received their last US-cooked meal in a mess hall that was especially designed to provide a better chow than what we were used to. Of course, that is where we went as well. I remember talking with bummed out National Guard members who had thought they would be spared from going into combat. In return, our flight crews brought back too many of our C-141 airplanes with frightening stacks of coffins that contained combat casualties. Travis AFB had a mortuary at that time from where the HRs (Human Remains) were returned to their loved ones. The war in Vietnam and the trauma it caused Stateside and beyond should never be forgotten.

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