A visit to the grave of the 78 Operation Babylift Orphans killed at the end of the Vietnam War.

A visit to the grave of the 78 Operation Babylift Orphans killed at the end of the Vietnam War.

Above Photo: I was recently told that this photograph was taken on board the plane that crashed, shortly before it took off.

Many readers were understandably affected by a recent article I posted about a plane crash at the end of the Vietnam War, during Operation Babylift, that killed 78 (or more) Vietnamese orphans who were being airlifted out of the country to find new homes and new lives in the US and elsewhere.

The crashed plane outside Saigon, in which the orphans were killed.

The crashed C-5A transport plane lying in a rice field outside Saigon, where the orphans were killed.

I have put a link to the original article and photos at the end of this article.

Although the crash happened in South Vietnam, while doing research for the article I discovered the children killed in the crash had been cremated, then interred in a grave in Pattaya, Thailand, which isn’t far away from the former Vietnam War US air base at U-Tapao.

A Long Journey: the final resting place of the orphans in St Nicholas's Church, Pattaya, Thailand.

Short Lives and Long Journeys: the final resting place of the orphans in St Nicholas’s Church, Pattaya, Thailand.

A little more research and I discovered the name of the church, St Nicholas, and recently went along to see if I could find the grave, expecting it to be long-forgotten and in poor condition.

The small cemetery at St Nicholas's Church.

The small cemetery at St Nicholas’s Church.

I met the resident priest, Father Joe, who kindly walked me over to the small cemetery behind his church and pointed out the grave, which I was pleased to see was in fact very well cared for.

The headstone reads, somewhat ironically: “Come Little Children, Suffer Unto Me” Seventy-Nine Vietnamese Orphans “known but to God” died 4 April 1975 Saigon Vietnam Remembered by the United States Army Central Identification Laboratory

The headstone reads, somewhat ironically: “Come Little Children, Suffer Unto Me.” Seventy-Nine Vietnamese Orphans “known but to God” died 4 April 1975 Saigon Vietnam. Remembered by the United States Army Central Identification Laboratory.

He told me one of the nuns looks after it, and I explained how it was that the children came to be in the ground of his church, and what I was doing there, and subsequently showed him my article.

This photograph was also taken on the doomed plane shortly before it took off.

This photograph was also taken on the doomed plane shortly before it took off.

I found it much sadder visiting the grave than writing the article, maybe because it felt more real to be actually standing over their burial site and recalling the tragic events that had led to the deaths of these young children all those years ago.

The link to the original article and photos is here:  http://peteralanlloyd.com/the-vietnam-war/operation-babylift-78-vietnamese-orphans-die-in-plane-crash-at-the-end-of-the-vietnam-war/

A mystery - dedication stone to "Sharon Marie Oakey and Claire Louise Oakey" also located on the orphans' grave.

Another mystery – dedication stone to “Sharon Marie Oakey and Claire Louise Oakey” also located on the orphans’ grave.

For a modern-day take on the Vietnam War, POWs/MIAs and Adventure Backpackers trekking into the war-ravaged jungles of Asia, see: http://peteralanlloyd.com/back-part-2/backpackers-meet-the-vietnam-war-back-screenplay-finally-finished/

For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:

© Peter Alan Lloyd

BACK Parts 1 and 2:

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Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 1.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

Front cover of BACK Part 2.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Ricardo lofton

    I was stationed at Clark ab p.i. And could had been on that flight 74-75 usaf.

    Reply

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