Historical Center Seeks Veterans of Little Known Refugee
Story Number: NNS030630-20
Release Date: 7/1/2003 4:20:00 PM
By Anika Richburg, Naval Historical Center Public
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Naval Historical Center (NHC) and Surface Navy
Association are seeking Navy veterans who witnessed and participated in the
events of 1954’s Operation Passage to Freedom.
This operation evacuated thousands of Vietnamese refugees from the then newly
created communist North Vietnam to the democratic South Vietnam.
As the French fought desperately to retain a foothold in North Vietnam, this
operation was conducted by U.S. Navy Task Force 90 (TF 90) under Adm. Lorenzo S.
Sabin from his flagship USS Estes (AGC-12). TF 90 evacuated refugees from
Haiphon, North Vietnam, to Saigon, South Vietnam, Aug. 18, 1954, to May 20,
The ships involved were 74 Landing Ship Tanks (LSTs), transports, attack cargo
ships, dock landing ships and other vessels. The Military Sea Transport Service
(MSTS) provided an additional 39 transports, supplied and replenished by the
Logistics Support Force, Western Pacific, stationed at Danang Bay, South
Fleet medical units and Naval Beach Group I elements helped the refugees
encamped ashore at both ends of the transit route. By the end of the operation,
the Navy had carried to freedom some 293,000 immigrants, vehicles and other
“From the evacuation of North Vietnam in 1954 to the evacuation of Saigon in
1975, U.S. naval operations were crucial in the Vietnam war. The Naval
Historical Center wants to make sure the history and heritage of early
operations, such as Operation Passage to Freedom, are preserved,” said Dr.
William S. Dudley, director, NHC.
If you were one of the thousands of Sailors (enlisted and officers) who took
part in this humanitarian operation, or know someone who did and are willing to
talk about it, please contact Dr. William S. Dudley, Director, Naval Historical
Center, Building 57, Washington, DC 20374 or (202) 433-2210 OR email
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