The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Digital Library

Operation Babylift

Faced with mounting evidence of the imminent fall of South Vietnam, President Gerald R. Ford authorized the evacuation of thousands of Vietnamese orphans (many fathered by American military personnel) to the United States on April 3, 1975. This evacuation became known as Operation Babylift. Two days later he greeted a planeload of orphans at San Francisco International Airport.

This evacuation was quite brief and direct White House involvement was limited, so Ford Library holdings on it are not extensive. The Library does have the Shirley Peck Barnes Papers that contain correspondence, newsletters, newspaper clippings, research materials, and artifacts relating to her involvement with Friends of Children of Vietnam (FCVN) and Operation Babylift.

In addition to items listed below, the Library has some orphan-related documents scattered among the more extensive holdings on the rescue and resettlement of other Indochina refugees. Please contact the Library for additional information on holdings concerning Operation Babylift, other refugees, or other aspects of the Vietnam War.

President Gerald Ford greets South Vietnamese orphans arriving in the United States
White House photograph A3860-26A

Digitized Holdings on Operation Babylift

The Library has also digitized additional selected documents related to the Vietnam War.