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[Image 1: Photo
Courtesy of Capt James D. Tregunha, USN (Ret). Tents to house
refugees are erected on the softball field and golf course
of Grande Island. The camp commander was Subic Bay executive
officer Capt W. B. Moore, Jr; USN.]

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Vietnamese Navy's evacuees even left South Vietnam. These early visitors "called it 'Project New Life,' and during the height of the massive airlift, nearly 5,000 evacuees arrived on Grande Island at the mouth of Subic Bay .... Fifteen minutes after a tent was up it was occupied."15 Until 28 April the South Vietnamese came by C-141 and C-130, but on that day Admiral Gayler in a message to the Air Force suspended all but C-150 flights which themselves were ended the following day when a Hercules incurred damage from artillery fire directed at Tan Son Nhut Airport. The admiral also addressed how he expected the refugees to get to their next destination: "MAC [Military Airlift Command] will arrange onward movement to Guam/Wake and other designated locations."16
This would change significantly within the next 24 hours. The suspension of
the fixed-wing airlift would mean the start of Frequent Wind and the helicopter
evacuation of South Vietnam, followed by the RVN Navy's evacuees.


As soon as Tan Son Nhut Airport came under siege, first from a bombing attack by Communist-flown A-37s late on the afternoon of 28 April and then from a rocket barrage 10 hours later. South Vietnamese Air Force pilots started manning their planes and helicopters and flying them, along with their dependents, to U.S. Navy ships off the coast or to bases in Thailand. The Blue Ridge reported the landing of one of these craft, a VNAF CH-47, on its deck shortly after the aerial bombardment of Tan Son Nhut. It quoted the pilot and copilot, each of whom had brought along his wife and children, "Our crew was refueling at Tan Son Nhut when six A-37s commenced attack .... The only way out for South Vietnamese helo pilots was to head to sea and U.S. shipping." In the process of landing, the Vietnamese Chinook cut off the approach of an Air America helo attempting to land on the Blue Ridge." This type of incident would become commonplace in the next 48 hours. These refugees, arriving by Vietnamese helicopter, and subsequent groups, arriving by small craft or carried by Marine helicopters, represented the gravest challenge to the evacuation









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