USS Kirk

My love for NPR made a sudden spike this past week when I heard a series of stories on the USS Kirk, a US Navy ship that helped save tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees just after the fall of Saigon.  I feel that it is something everyone should read and hear about.

NPR WAMU’s Joseph Shapiro and Sandra Bartlett sought out to uncover this amazing untold story that occurred over 35 years ago.  It is truly a magnificent work of journalism.

Here’s an excerpt from the transcript of part one:

SHAPIRO: One mother dropped her baby and her two young children toward the outstretched arms of the sailors below.

Mr. CHIPMAN: I remember the baby coming out. You know, there was no way we were going to let them hit the deck or drop them. We caught them. I was pretty small myself back then – weighed 130 pounds. Even as small as I am, you know, they come flying out and we caught them.

SHAPIRO: These were the Vietnamese army pilots’ children. He’d saved the lives of his passengers, but now he was out of fuel and surrounded by flat, blue ocean. Hugh Doyle saw him fly the huge helicopter about 60 yards from the Kirk. Doyle uses slang and calls it an airplane.

Mr. DOYLE: He took the airplane, hovered it very close to the water, took all his clothes off with the exception of his skivvies, all by himself, no co-pilot, took all his clothes off, threw it out the window. And then he got up on the edge of the window, still holding onto the two sticks that a helicopter has to fly with. He tilted it over on its side, still flying in the air, and dove into the water. The airplane just fell into the water. It hit the water on its right-hand side. The rotors just exploded.

Part 1: Forgotten Ship: A Daring Rescue As Saigon Fell

Part 2: 35 Years On, Vietnam Heroes Reunited, Decorated

Part 3: At War’s End, U.S. Ship Rescued South Vietnam’s Navy

Also, watch this video: A War, A Baby, And Lasting Ties


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