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April 09, 1975 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1975-04-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page' Ten

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Wednesday, April 9, 1975

Page Ten THE MICHIGAN DAiLY Wednesday, April 9, 1975

Vietnam orphans: Along

ride

from

war

to

By BILL TURQUE
THE FOURTEEN VIETNAMESE orph-
ans who landed in Detroit Metro
Airport last Sunday were swept into
their American lives amid a flood of
confusion, trabedg, and hype, which
most of them will not fully understand
for many years.
But beyond the media ballyhoo, the
synicism, and the self-congratulatory
posture surrounding Governor Milliken's
appearance was a genuine feeling of
warmth emanating from a group of peo-
ple who extended themselves to help
some young children who needed a place
to live.
The orphans had obviously won over
the eight-man flight crew of the Air
Force C-130 transports that flew them
from Chicago. While they were happy
that they had guided the orphans safely
to their destination, they seemed almost
sorry to see them go.
"We'll see ya later sweetpea," said one
of the crew, carrying an infant across
the windswept airfield into the arms of
a Red Cross volunteer. '
"Most of them were pretty quiet," said
another, "but there was one real live
wire who was really sucking down the
cokes."

OVERNOR MILLIKEN p l a y e d the
children's arrival to the hilt, carry-
ing the first infant off of one of the
planes onto a waiting University bus,
much to the delight of the Detroit me-
dia.
"Come closer to the window, Gover-
nor," said one cameraman, and Milliken
eagerly complied. The baby who could
not have been more than six months old,
looked terribly unconcerned as to whose
arms he was in.
The bus trip to the W. J. Maxey Train-
ing School in Whitmore Lake, where
their new families were waiting, was
quiet, subdued, and secure. There was
the feeling of an impossibly long jour-
ney finally coming to an end. The vol-
unteers from the Washtenaw County
Red Cross quietly tended to their in-
fants, changing diapers and feeding
them bottled formula.
For at least one of the children, a
handsome, ebullient nine-year old nam-
ed Huynh Thagh Lam, the trip to Maxey
was a major adventure. Lam, who had
his first look at snow wlhen his flight
approached Seattle, got an even closer
look riding down I-94.

'peace
"EVERYTHING IS SO pretty here," he
said, according to an interpreter on
the bus.
Once at Maxey, the children were
hustled past both press and parents into
a makeshift nursery for physical exams
and a meal consisting of rice, formula,
baby food, and some meat. The state of-
ficials supervising the operation guarded
the privacy of the children as best they
could, permitting only a few members
of the press at a time to visit with them.
On the floor in one corner of the room
was Lam, revelin- in a couple of toy
trucks he had found, and giving a cheer-
ful welcome to anyone interested.
After the exams were completed, the
diapers changed, and the identities of
the children verified, they began to meet
their-new parents.
It was a joyous, moving sight, but for
the Red Cross volunteers who had been
with the orphans since early that morn-
ing in Chicago, it meant saying goodbye,
probably forever.
Stephanie Velker, a volunteer from
Ann Arbor, was crying softly and hold-
ing an infant tightly in her arms.
"He's fine," she said, smiling through
the streaming tears on her cheeks. "He's
holding up better than I am."

Photography
by
Ken
Fink

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