pan am flight attendant holding baby from Vietnam during Vietnam Babylift

Operation Babylift: A Celebration of the Human Spirit

The Pan Am Museum Foundation and Holt International are presenting a special event in honor of the 47th anniversary of “Operation Babylift,” the evacuation of children living in orphanages in Vietnam to adoptive families.

GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK – EUGENE, OREGON, March 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Pan Am Museum Foundation and Holt International are proud to present Operation Babylift, a special event on April 24th at 6 p.m. EDT to mark the 47th Anniversary of the evacuation of children living in orphanages in Vietnam to loving families in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France and Germany. The event will be held at the Pan Am Museum within the Cradle of Aviation center in Garden City, New York, and the ticket cost is $75 per person — with a special price available for adoptees. Ticket proceeds support the Pan Am Museum and Holt international, both nonprofit organizations. 

In attendance will be adoptees, adoptive parents, volunteer flight attendants, as well as volunteer medical professionals who were a part of the evacuation at the end of the Vietnam War. Adoptees and airline personnel, as well as representatives of Holt International and Pan Am Museum, are available for interviews upon request. To download related images, visit our Google Drive.

Also in attendance and available for interview will be Al Topping, Pan Am’s director of South Vietnam & Cambodia. He helped organized the evacuation flights as North Vietnamese troops were closing in, including another evacuation of almost 400 families soon after Operation Babylift was completed.

“I am most honored and privileged to be a part of this event. I cannot wait to see the Vietnamese babies again after all these years … all grown up as adults,” said Topping. “The work that Pan Am, Holt International and others did to rescue these kids is the truest example of the good within the human spirit. We changed lives for the better and I will always cherish that.”

The 1990 movie “Last Flight Out” was based on his dramatic and harrowing story with James Earl Jones starring as Topping. The evening will serve as an important touchstone for the many parents and adoptees whose lives were changed forever by Pan Am’s contribution to the babylift.

“Bringing these groups together for this special program shows you the massive positive impact this one historical event had on generations of people to this day,” said Linda Freire, director of the Pan Am Museum.

Operation Babylift was directed by U.S. President Gerald R. Ford in the final days of South Vietnam shortly before the country fell to the North in 1975. Pan American World Airways sent two Boeing 747 jumbo jets, one chartered by Holt International, to assist in the evacuation. This event is sure to be a unique celebration and reunion of many involved in the Vietnam Babylift.

“It’s poignant that the same tragic circumstances facing children in Vietnam during the babylift are being repeated today in the Ukraine,” said Phil Littleton, president and CEO of Holt International Children’s Services. “We are proud to partner with the Pan Am Museum for this important commemorative event. Our commitment to serving children suffering through trauma and hardship is as strong today as it was 47 years ago.”

Tickets are available for $75 per person and include food, complimentary beer and wine and entrance to the museum — and there is a special price available to adoptees! To purchase tickets, visit ThePanAmMuseum.org or call 1-888-826-5678. We respectfully request that you RSVP and purchase tickets by April 18.

About Pan Am Museum 
Opened in 2016, the mission of the Pan Am Museum is to educate, celebrate, and inspire present and future generations by preserving historical and diverse personal stories of Pan American World Airways. Through the humanities lens, the Museum explores the rich history of the airline through the stories of people. The museum also has a podcast program, The Pan Am Podcast, that was been downloaded over 35,000 times in 114 countries. For more information on the Pan Am Museum, visit thepanammuseum.org and listen to the podcast program on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Audible, Google Podcasts, and other podcast platforms.

About Holt International
Holt International seeks a world where every child has a loving and secure home. Since Holt’s founding in 1956, the organization has worked towards its vision through programs that strengthen and preserve families that are at risk of separation; by providing critical care and support to orphaned and vulnerable children; and by leading the global community in finding families for children who need them and providing the pre-and post-adoption support and resources they need to thrive. Always, Holt focuses on each child’s unique needs — keeping the child’s best interest at the forefront of every decision. To learn more about Holt, visit holtinternational.org.

See how Holt celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Babylift in 2015.

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