There will be a large 40th reunion of participants in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon in April and May of 1975. Former Vietnamese refugees and U. S. Servicemen who took part are cordially invited to attend. The reunion will take place at the U. S. Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Pendleton, California (Camp Telega, on the Orange County line). Retired U. S. Navy Captain Ralph Ortolano is organizing an “Oral History Project” in conjunction with this reunion, collaborating with the Navy History Command and the Library of Congress, as well as local journalism schools. For more information, please contact Captain Ortolano at (310) 982-5499.
Hello KIRK Shipmates and Friends of KIRK,
For those of us who were participants in “Operation Frequent Wind,” the fall of Saigon and the subsequent rescue of tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees back in 1975, the story is seared in our memories. But much of that dramatic story either never made the “front page” at the time, or has slipped away over the decades since.
As many of us know, our USS KIRK Association has played a pivotal role in bringing this remarkable story out of the fading fog of history, so that the exploits of so many Americans can be properly recognized. But we all know that it was not just USS KIRK. There was an evacuation flotilla of fifty (50) American ships — both U. S. Navy warships and civilian-manned ships of the Military Sealift Command and contract ships — that stood in waiting off the coast of South Vietnam. And many units of the U. S. Air Force and the U. S. Marine Corps were part of that operation, too.
USS KIRK is now well known, as a result of the original “Frequent Wind” article that appeared on this website back in 2007, and the follow-on projects based on that article (the official U. S. Navy documentary “The Lucky Few”; a four-part National Public Radio series; numerous magazine articles; a full-length Naval Institute book now in progress; and a PBS television documentary due to air next year). But USS KIRK’s story is just a small slice of that history.
Because so many other units played such vital roles in this “Operation Frequent Wind” — and the many “Boat People” rescues that followed in the later years — it is only right that a wider net be cast now to properly recognize ALL the participants, both American and Vietnamese.
To do this properly, we are standing up a new association, the “Operation Frequent Wind Association,” a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, separate and apart from our USS KIRK Association.
This new “Operation Frequent Wind (OFW) Association” will be an educational association. It will be devoted to researching and recording the detailed histories of the units involved in this vast rescue operation, and then telling the myriad personal stories of the American and Vietnamese veterans who participated in this epic saga. The new OFW Association will also document the generational histories of the many hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese-American citizens who are descendants of those original “Lucky Few” refugees who were forced to flee their native land.
Membership in the new OFW Association will be open widely to all U. S. Defense Department and State Department personnel who took part in Operation Frequent Wind, Operation New Life, all later “Boat People” operations, the staffs of all refugee “resettlement camps” both in CONUS and overseas, and all Red Cross and other American civil organizations who played such a vital role in resettling the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees in their new land. In addition — and most especially — the new OFW Association will be open to all Vietnamese refugees and their Vietnamese-American descendants.
Please stand by for a detailed “who, what, where, when, how” message shortly, publicizing the new “Operation Frequent Wind (OFW) Association.” We hope you all will join us.
All the best,……….Hugh Doyle (USS KIRK Association Vice-President)
Check out the schedule of your local NPR station or go to NPR’s site. They will be airing USS KIRK stories as follows:
- August 31 – All Things Considered
- September 1 – Morning Edition and All Things Considered
- September 2nd or 3rd – Morning Edition
We will be happy to get your feedback on what you hear! There will also be a fairly significant web component on the NPR site.