The hot sun beamed down on the flight line as busloads of kids waited to board the huge C-5A galaxy. Many kids passed through my hands as we handed each one up the stairs and placed in their seats. It's hard to say which one of those kids were the adult adoptees I've met since the day of evacuation. However briefly I held them, it was rewarding for me know that I have met a few of them today.
The first adoptees I met were in St. Louis Mo. when I was invited by Sister Susan Mac Donald. It was July of 2001 when I met a group of adoptees. One individual that stood out was Daniel Tran Bischoff; he was very interested in meeting me. Dan survived the C-5A galaxy crash; he was one of the kids who passed through my hands on April 4, 1975. Dan was adopted by Dick and Ann Bishcoff who are University Professors. They reside in University City Missouri where Dan was raised.
Sister Susan reserved a suite at the Holiday Inn in St. Louis, we gather there for a Babylift reunion. I was the guest speaker for this long awaited reunion. It had been twenty-six years since I was last in contact with any of the kids of Operation Babylift in person. There were eight adoptees who attended this reunion: Daniel Tran Bischoff, Christy Beachler, Ryan Killacky, Noelle Rocklage, Warren Dalal, Dana Pena, Evelyn Peters, and Casey Borgman. I was honored to be a part of Sister Susan MacDonald's Babylift reunion program. It was her first time hosting such an event. She invited other crew members to attend the event such as Bud Traynor and Regina Aune, but circumstances prevented them from attending.
Meeting Dan was for the first time was powerful and it had an effect on me that I'll never forget. Dan and the others were in the conference room when I arrived, as soon as I walked in, my man Dan, rushed over to me and said "Phil what an honor to meet you".
We hugged and embraced each other. I choked up right away; I could not believe how dynamic this young man was. He thanked me, my crew members, and expressed his condolences for the loss of life to my fallen crew members. When I heard Dan address the loss of my crew members, I just melted inside me. For years I wondered if any of the Babylift kids would recognize the sacrifices of my fallen crew members. Daniel Tran Bischoff was the first to do so. Each time I visit the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall, I let my fallen crew members know that Daniel Bischoff and other C-5A galaxy Operation Babylift survivors are truly grateful for your sacrifices.