AmeriCares Founder Bob Macauley Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of His Vietnam Babylift

AmeriCares Foundation
Wednesday, 5 April 2000

Robert C. Macauley, the Founder of AmeriCares, today celebrates the 25th anniversary of his historic orphan airlift out of Vietnam. A day after a U.S. Airforce C-5A crashed near Saigon on April 4, 1975, killing more than 100 of the children on board, Bob Macauley chartered two Pan American 747s to evacuate the survivors and hundreds of other orphans.

The orphans were being flown out of Vietnam while the North Vietnamese Army was gathering momentum for its drive to final victory. The roads near the doomed city of Saigon were choked with refugees. American volunteer workers assembled 243 war orphans at Tan Son Nhut Air Base for a last ditch evacuation to the United States. The infants and toddlers were loaded in the cavernous hold of the C-5A. The big jet lifted off but crashed 20 minutes later, killing more than 100 of the children aboard.

Within 24 hours of that deadly flight, Bob Macauley mortgaged his house to charter the two 747s to get the remaining survivors out of Vietnam, just three weeks before Saigon fell to the Communists.

"By the time my $251,000 check to Pan Am bounced, the orphans were safely in the U.S.," recalled Bob Macauley." "I gave my house to the bank, and it worked out fine. The welfare of the children was utmost on my mind."

Bob Macauley and his wife Leila are still very much involved in the work of AmeriCares, a non-profit disaster relief organization they founded in 1982. AmeriCares provides immediate response to emergency medical needs—and supports long-term healthcare programs—for people around the world, irrespective of race, creed or political persuasion. Since its inception, AmeriCares has provided immediate medical relief to disaster victims in over 130 countries, and has already reached the $2.5 billion mark in life-saving aid.

For more information, or to contact AmeriCares Foundation, see their website at:

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