OTR Interviews

Paying Tribute to the 'Lady Ace 09'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 30, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you know what happened 35 years ago today? The Vietnam War ended when Communist forces took over Saigon. On April 30th, 1975, the American people watched on television as Saigon fell.

One of the historic events not caught on camera, a helicopter called the "Lady Ace 09," a hero helicopter. It evacuated Ambassador Graham Martin from the U.S. Embassy. The helicopter is making news once again.

Griff Jenkins joins us in San Diego -- Griff.

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey Greta, it's certainly a day to honor the courage and commitment of all Vietnam veterans. And earlier today at the Marine Air Station Miramar we caught with the ceremony dedicated to that special bird, Lady Ace-09 and her very brave Marine aviator.

Take a look.


JENKINS (On Camera): Today marks the 35th anniversary of the last American flights out of Saigon. The city had fallen and enemy tanks were at the gates. The march was on; it was the final hours of the Vietnam War. Americans as well as (INAUDIBLE) Vietnamese needed a ride out.

A massive group of helicopters like these behind me, the Ace-46 Sea Knights commonly known as Frogs, piloted by brave Marine aviators flew deep into the night in the early morning hours until the last man was out.

The mission's code name: Operation Frequent Wind, and it stands expands as the largest helicopter evacuation in Marine Corps history. They flew over 1,000 flight hours in almost 700 sorties. And today here at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar one of its brave pilots and his bird is being honored.

(Voice-over): Her call sign is Lady Ace-09, and she's a CH-46 from Marine Median Helicopter Squadron 165. And at 4:59 a.m. on April 30th under the direct orders of President Ford, she was piloted by Captain Gerry Berry to land on the embassy rooftop in Saigon and transport Ambassador Graham Martin from that rooftop to the safety of the USS Blue Ridge.

Here is Captain Gerry Berry's thoughts on that remarkable day.

COL. GERRY BERRY (RETIRED), U.S. MARINE CORPS: The interesting part for us was we were flying you know, Lady Ace-09 and my wing man from HMM-165, I think about three or four in the morning this is continuous flight now from early in the afternoon on the 29th, we realized that we were the only ones flying. There were -- nobody else was making noise out there. You have the command ship above which was an airplane, but nobody else in the Helo Commando was flying.

And this is a time that we land on the roof, basically we're -- it was my mission any way. So Sergeant Bennington came over the airplane and I said you know, this is -- this plane is not leaving the roof until the Ambassador is onboard.

About two minutes later the Ambassador is onboard; we are out of there at 4:59 in the morning. Take him to the Blue Ridge. Land, a lot of hoopla, General Perry (ph), Admiral Whitmire (ph), they are all there, a kind of exciting time for us. And then of course after that's all done, we refuel and they say now you've got to go back and get the Marines.


JENKINS: The motto of HMM 165 is "Whatever it takes." And nobody demonstrated that better than Colonel Berry 35 years ago today. Fascinating thing Greta, while Lady Ace 09 is being retired there are four CH-46's just like that one who flew with 165 on this day 35 years ago that is with that unit, 165 -- which will deploy three weeks from today.

A remarkable ceremony; we have the veterans coming together that have not seen each other for years and the young guys about to ship off in that unit up to the Mediterranean in just three weeks. A very special day where we certainly say, thank you to all those veterans who served in Vietnam -- Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Griff, thank you.

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