A minor and belated Memorial Day remembrance of
our troops who served in View Nam.
My wife Jeanie, years before I met her, was a flight attendant with Pan American. She was never in the military, but since Pan Am routinely flew to and from Viet Nam the pilots as well as she and her fellow attendants who often flew there were given simulated commissions for such good as they might have done had they crashed and been captured. Pan Am flew R & R flights and transported troops home from Viet Nam. Jeanie told me a story of a flight back to the States from Honolulu, where she had boarded a troop flight from Viet Nam bound for San Francisco. Here is the way she tells it.
Three nuns had departed Viet Nam on a Pan Am Boeing 747, accompanied by about twenty infant orphans. The nuns could not care for such a large number of babies, so after boarding they had distributed the infants to military passengers returning to the States. The troops, weary and bound for home, were generally young and inexperienced in the care of infants. The flight was full and the troops accepted them reluctantly. When a baby cried, they didn’t know what to do. The nuns handed them diapers, formula to feed them, and showed them how to hold the babies. It was pretty much up to them to figure out the rest. Gradually, they began to comfort and rock their babies when they cried.
When we landed at San Francisco Airport, there were several adoption officials to take the babies from their military caretakers. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw that many babies had to practically be torn from the arms of the boys, because they had grown so attached to “their” babies.
These were probably among the young men whom some disparaged, spit on and called baby killers upon their return to the States.