The USS Kirk: Valor At The Vietnam War's End More than 35 years ago, the USS Kirk, a small ship in the U.S. Navy’s fleet had a big role in the rescue of thousands of South Vietnamese refugees. The story has been virtually lost in the history of that unpopular war. Some of the sailors and the people they saved recount the dramatic story to NPR.
Special Series

The USS Kirk: Valor At The Vietnam War's End

A reunion of the crew and passengers of a small U.S. Navy fleet that rescued Vietnamese refugees.

The South Vietnamese fleet follows the USS Kirk to Subic Bay in the Philippines. The Kirk's final mission at the end of the Vietnam War was to bring the remnants of the South's navy to safety in the Philippines. Hugh Doyle hide caption

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Hugh Doyle

On April 29, 1975, as Saigon was falling to Communist North Vietnamese forces, a small U.S. Navy destroyer escort ship, the USS Kirk, played a dramatic but almost forgotten role in rescuing up to 30,000 South Vietnamese. Here, a member of the USS Kirk's crew tends to a Vietnamese baby. Hugh Doyle hide caption

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Hugh Doyle

Ba Nguyen (right), here with his wife, Nho, was able to maneuver his helicopter so his passengers — including his 10-month-old daughter — could drop to safety on the Kirk. He then flew the Chinook over the ocean and jumped out while the helicopter crashed. In July, Kirk crew members honored Nguyen with an Air Medal, the award the U.S. military gives for heroic feats while flying. Though he is afflicted with advanced Alzheimer's, he saluted upon receiving the award. David Deal for NPR hide caption

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David Deal for NPR

On April 29, 1975, as Saigon was falling to Communist North Vietnamese forces, a small U.S. Navy destroyer escort ship, the USS Kirk, played a dramatic but almost forgotten role in rescuing up to 30,000 South Vietnamese. Here, a member of the USS Kirk's crew tends to a Vietnamese baby. Hugh Doyle hide caption

toggle caption
Hugh Doyle