US

'Operation Babylift' orphans, soldiers who helped them flee Vietnam reunite after 40 years

  • Du Hua bears America and South Vietnam flags as he walks near the display of a Vietnam era helicopter during ceremonies commemorating the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift from Vietnam, Friday, April 24, 2015, in Holmdel, N.J. Du Hua, who took 11 attempts to escape from communist Vietnam, went on to serve in the U.S. Navy and is now a doctor of Pharmacy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Du Hua bears America and South Vietnam flags as he walks near the display of a Vietnam era helicopter during ceremonies commemorating the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift from Vietnam, Friday, April 24, 2015, in Holmdel, N.J. Du Hua, who took 11 attempts to escape from communist Vietnam, went on to serve in the U.S. Navy and is now a doctor of Pharmacy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)  (The Associated Press)

  • Kim Lan Duong, of Dallas, Texas, holds a photo album with photographs from a Vietnamese orphanage at three-years-old and the orphanage now, during ceremonies commemorating the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift from Vietnam Friday, April 24, 2015, in Holmdel, N.J. Kim Lan Duong was a three-year-old when she was airlifted from Vietnam in Operation Babylift. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Kim Lan Duong, of Dallas, Texas, holds a photo album with photographs from a Vietnamese orphanage at three-years-old and the orphanage now, during ceremonies commemorating the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift from Vietnam Friday, April 24, 2015, in Holmdel, N.J. Kim Lan Duong was a three-year-old when she was airlifted from Vietnam in Operation Babylift. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)  (The Associated Press)

  • Sister Mary Nelle Gage, of Denver, Colo., holds a photograph of Margaret Moses during ceremonies commemorating the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift from Vietnam, Friday, April 24, 2015, in Holmdel, N.J. Moses, with Operation Babylift's Friends For All Children, died in an airlift plane crash that killed 78 children and six adults. One hundred people on the Air Force C-5A survived the crash, according to Gage. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Sister Mary Nelle Gage, of Denver, Colo., holds a photograph of Margaret Moses during ceremonies commemorating the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift from Vietnam, Friday, April 24, 2015, in Holmdel, N.J. Moses, with Operation Babylift's Friends For All Children, died in an airlift plane crash that killed 78 children and six adults. One hundred people on the Air Force C-5A survived the crash, according to Gage. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)  (The Associated Press)

Vietnamese orphans airlifted to the United States in the frantic final days of the Vietnam War have been reunited with some of the soldiers who helped evacuate them.

Twenty evacuees and their adopted families took part in the reunion Saturday at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Holmdel. It marked the 40th anniversary of Operation Babylift.

Operation Babylift was authorized by President Gerald Ford in April 1975. It evacuated 2,547 children to families in the United States and allied countries as Viet Cong troops descended on Saigon.

Participants at Saturday's event dedicated a plaque inscribed with the names of 138 children, volunteers and soldiers who perished when their C-5A Galaxy crashed while headed to Clark Air Base in the Philippines.