Pilot remembers 'Operation Babylift' 40-years later - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Pilot remembers 'Operation Babylift' 40-years later

Mindy Kelpe-Eubanks was just an infant at the time. Mindy Kelpe-Eubanks was just an infant at the time.
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  • Operation Babylift crash survivor tells story on 39 year anniversary

    Operation Babylift crash survivor tells story on 39 year anniversary

    Operation Babylift crash survivor tells story on 39 year anniversary

    Friday, April 4 2014 11:00 AM EDT2014-04-04 15:00:29 GMT
    Friday, April 4 2014 11:00 AM EDT2014-04-04 15:00:29 GMT
    April 4, 2014 marks the 39 year anniversary of Operation Babylift. A Cape Girardeau woman is part of that Vietnam War history. She is a survivor of one of the planes that crashed. She still struggles with the past, but is grateful for the life and family she has today.
    April 4, 2014 marks the 39 year anniversary of Operation Babylift. A Cape Girardeau woman is part of that Vietnam War history. She is a survivor of one of the planes that crashed. She still struggles with the past, but is grateful for the life and family she has today.
(KFVS) -

Bud Traynor, Pilot of the C-5A Galaxy Aircraft, remembers events before, during and after the crash 40-years-ago that forever changed his life.

Operation Babylift was directed by President Gerald Ford to bring Vietnamese orphans to the U.S.

Traynor was asked if he could prepare the plane to transport a lot of people including many Vietnamese infants and children. 

Traynor stated to maximize the 73 seats in the upstairs troop compartment, they placed two kids per seat with a pillow in between them and gave them milk or juice.

Infants were placed in boxes with the seatbelts through the handles.

On April 4, 1975 with bombs still exploding, U.S. planes loaded up thousands of children.

The crash killed 173 that day.

"It just completely crushed the belly of the plane and instantly killed many children," said Mindy Kelpe-Eubanks, a Heartland resident that was on the plane that day.

Traynor said: 

"To our Babylift adoptees: As I look back on that day, most of you were approximately the same age as my children. So I can, in a way, look at all you as part of a large extended family. I know each and every one has had an individual life with all its twists and turns; but all share a common event. While I know nothing of your life before you were brought to my plane, I am always happy to give anyone who asks whatever insight I might have regarding this small part of your new beginning."

Traynor has kept in close contact with the passengers aboard the plane that crashed throughout the years.

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