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A Veterans Day Bleg

Help Tonya Jone Miller find the American soldier or Marine who saved her mother in the evacuation of South Viet Nam.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

November 11, 2013 - 1:00 pm

Threads Promo from CoHo Productions on Vimeo.

A very close friend of mine, Tonya Jone Miller, has a wonderful personal show about how her mother, a girl from Indiana, found herself teaching in Viet Nam, and about her mother’s (and Tonya’s!) last minute escape from Viet Nam out of Tan Son Nhat Airbase. She has a Veteran’s Day request:

I am looking for a veteran who served in the Vietnam war, and I need your help. Please share this post, especially if you have any kind of military or veteran connections.

If you’ve seen my show “Threads” you know that my American mother got out of Vietnam mere days before the fall of Saigon. She was there trying to get my Vietnamese father’s family out of the country, and she was 8 1/2 months pregnant with me.

Many random people helped her escape, but I am looking for one in particular. My mother was shoved into the belly of a plane full of to-be-adopted orphans as it was taking off, and if not for the soldier who did that, I would likely not exist.

I have no idea if that man survived the war. I am hoping that if he did, he told the wild story of the crazy lady in labor he pushed into a plane as it was taxi-ing on the runway. Here is a link to a video of this part of the show http://vimeo.com/67752938. Maybe someone will recognize themselves, or their father, or their friend in these details…

Tan Son Nhat airbase, Saigon, sometime between April 10-20, 1975. Mom thinks the soldier was a Marine or an MP officer of some kind. The plane was carrying orphans for adoption and was bound for Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

I’d like to find that soldier and thank him. I’d like to tell him how his decision to help my mother probably saved my life and hers. Even if the man is no longer with us, I’d like to have a name to honor in my heart. I know the chances are slim, but maybe a social media miracle will happen.

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle

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All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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It is possible that the person who helped save the mother was TDY to Vietnam to help with the evacuation. They could be from the Phillipines as that was where the plane was going.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I belong to the Gun and Game Forum, a firearms forum that includes many Vietnam-era vets among its membership. I posted a link to this story and asked if the Band of Fellers might be able to help. SightnSqueeze had this suggestion:

"I know this is a longshot, but if hand written or typed Air Force duty logs were kept by the air ops personnel at the scene, then there would be a list of air ops personnel (APs, duty office personnel, flight-line personnel, etc) who were coordinating -- or at best, loosely managing the flow of people to the heavy lifters coming and going. I say "longshot" because the guy who got the woman aboard may or may not have been assigned to the air ops. He might have been a loadmaster or one of the other crewmen of the plane in question -- or even from the crew of another plane.

"If duty logs were even kept during such a hectic event, the next question is -- where are they? They could provide a mountain of names. A few inquiries might get a positive hit on the name of the man who got the woman aboard an outbound heavy lifter. I knew a retired AF loadmaster who I met in college after I got out of the Navy. We were both students in 1980. He told some of us about his experience during the April '75 air evacuation of refugees from Saigon after he recognized one of our professors as a former C-141 pilot who had supposedly piloted the last -- or one of the last -- heavy lifters out of Vietnam. I remember the story because he said that he (the pilot) had just dragged out a commercial size Bunn coffee brewer full of coffee from Air Ops to his plane. Now whether the retired loadmaster was a witness to that event or heard it from a third party is unknown. I haven't spoken to the retired loadmaster in over 35 years, but I know that he was working as an investigator in a small town in coastal South Carolina back then. I am guessing that he has some age on him now and is likely retired from his "second" career, but I'll see if I can locate him to ask around in turn. Charleston AFB is the home of the 437th MAW and the 315th MAW now as it was then. Both flew C-141s in those days before switching over to the C-5s in the mid-90s. Military personnel who were stationed at any of the Charleston bases (primarily Air Force and Navy) tend to return to retire there, so a lot of inquires could be made through social media or through the local news media."

Putting the story into the Charleston papers might result in some worthwhile leads. The important thing is to "boost the signal" as far as we can.

My mother-in-law swims every morning with a group of fellow senior citizens. One of them was a pilot in the refugee airlift out of Tan Son Nhut. She has printed the story out and will give it to him tomorrow morning. Tht also might lead somewhere.We can but try.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In fact I believe the guy was either Air Ops or an MP. Good suggestion!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not to be a spelling nazi, but it is spelled Tan Son Nhut
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tan_Son_Nhat_International_Airport

"Tan Son Nhat International Airport has its origins in the early 1930s, when the French colonial government constructed a small airport with unpaved runways, known as Tân Sơn Nhất Airfield near the village of Tan Son Nhat. By mid-1956, with U.S. aid, a 7,200-foot (2,190 m) runway had been built and the airfield near Saigon became known as South Vietnam's principal international gateway. During the Vietnam War (or Second Indochina War), Tan Son Nhut Air Base (then using the alternative spelling Tân Sơn Nhứt) was an important facility for both the U.S. Air Force and the South Vietnamese Air Force. "

So there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sincere suggestion, Tonya: try San Francisco. Remember what Oscar Wilde said about San Francisco.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
a lot of soldiers saved peoples' lives in Vietnam.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good luck...I hope you find him. From small things are miracles made.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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