April 1975: Communist victory imminent

After years of conflict, the North Vietnamese military was on the move and quickly making its way towards Saigon, the South Vietnamese capital.

The problem?

Though it was unclear exactly what might happen under North Vietnamese control, there was widespread fear of chaos and bloodshed by both South Vietnamese and Americans. And people wanted out.

Service organizations including Holt International Children’s Services, Friends of Children of Vietnam, Friends For All Children, Catholic Relief Service, International Social Services, International Orphans, and the Pearl S. Buck Foundation petitioned the US government to help evacuate the various orphans in their facilities in Vietnam.

With the Vietnamese city of Da Nang having fallen to North Vietnamese forces in March, and with Saigon now under attack, on April 3, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced that the US government would begin evacuating orphans from Saigon on a series of 30 planned flights aboard military cargo aircraft.

Operation Babylift was the name given to the mass evacuation of children, many orphans or offspring of American GIs, from South Vietnam to the United States at the end of the Vietnam War from April 3–26, 1975. By the final flight out of South Vietnam, over 3,300 infants and children had been evacuated and adopted by families around the world. Together with Operation New Life, over 110,000 refugees were evacuated from South Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War.

Your task?

  • Learn more about Operation Babylift and use this new information to answer a final compelling question.

Start here:

  • Get some basic background information on Operation Babylift by going here.

What’s next?

  • Browse through the primary and secondary resources listed under Textual Sources and Visual Sources.
  • Answer the scaffolding questions associated with each of the documents.

Address the final compelling question:

  • Use prior knowledge and new information you’ve gathered from the documents posted here to create an iMovie trailer. You will also have the opportunity to do some of your own research and add that to your evidence.
  • Your trailer should clearly address the compelling question. (Get more specifics here about how you will know whether your trailer is great, good, or needs some work.)

Compelling question:

  • What choices did America have in this situation? Did it make the best choice? How do you know?