Operation Babylift crash survivor tells story on 39 year anniver - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Operation Babylift crash survivor tells story on 39 year anniversary

Operation Babylift crash survivor tells story on 39 year anniversary

Posted: Updated:
On April 4, 1975 with bombs still exploding, U.S. planes loaded up thousands of children. On April 4, 1975 with bombs still exploding, U.S. planes loaded up thousands of children.
Mindy Kelpe-Eubanks was just an infant at the time. Mindy Kelpe-Eubanks was just an infant at the time.
Roughly half of those on board, were killed. Roughly half of those on board, were killed.
  • Heartland NewsMore>>

  • All clear following bomb scare in Jackson County

    All clear following bomb scare in Jackson County

    Saturday, August 30 2014 11:49 PM EDT2014-08-31 03:49:45 GMT
    JACKSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The Jackson County Sheriff's Office responded to a bomb threat on their property today.Officials say a mentally unstable man brought two military flares inside his car to the sheriff's parking lot.They say he didn't make any threats and said he wanted to turn the devices over to deputies.As a precaution, deputies moved 30 inmates to another cell block within the jail, away from any potential harm.Patrons at a local business were also evacuated.The joint Carbondale ...
    JACKSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The Jackson County Sheriff's Office responded to a bomb threat on their property today.Officials say a mentally unstable man brought two military flares inside his car to the sheriff's parking lot.They say he didn't make any threats and said he wanted to turn the devices over to deputies.As a precaution, deputies moved 30 inmates to another cell block within the jail, away from any potential harm.Patrons at a local business were also evacuated.The joint Carbondale ...
  • Judge finds Texas abortion rules unconstitutional

    Judge finds Texas abortion rules unconstitutional

    Saturday, August 30 2014 9:23 PM EDT2014-08-31 01:23:21 GMT
    Tough new Texas abortion restrictions are on hold after a federal judge found Republican-led efforts to hold abortion clinics to hospital-level operating standards unconstitutional in a ruling that spares more than...
    Tough new Texas abortion restrictions are on hold after a federal judge found Republican-led efforts to hold abortion clinics to hospital-level operating standards unconstitutional in a ruling that spares more than a dozen...
  • Man fatally shot while changing tire in St. Louis

    Man fatally shot while changing tire in St. Louis

    Saturday, August 30 2014 8:07 PM EDT2014-08-31 00:07:00 GMT
    St. Louis police are investigating after a man was fatally shot while changing a flat tire near his home.
    St. Louis police are investigating after a man was fatally shot while changing a flat tire near his home.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Thirty-nine years ago on April 4, hundreds of Vietnamese children's lives were forever changed.

A Cape Girardeau woman is part of that history.

She's a survivor who still struggles with the past, but is grateful for the life and family she has today.

April 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War, and the fall of Saigon.

Overcrowded orphanages scrambled to get thousands of babies out of the country.

Mindy Kelpe-Eubanks was just an infant at the time.

 "We were all in orphanages and they were just trying to get us out of there," said Kelpe-Eubanks.

On April 4, 1975 with bombs still exploding, U.S. planes loaded up thousands of children.

In many cases, they were seated two to four children per seat.

 "The top level (of the plane) was the infants and the bottom level was older kids," said Kelpe-Eubanks.

Operation Babylift was directed by President Gerald Ford to bring Vietnamese orphans to the U.S.

Mindy was one of them. She was aboard a U.S. Air Force cargo plane with about 300 others, mostly children.

Tragically, the plane crashed shortly after take-off.

Roughly half of those on board, were killed.

"It just completely crushed the belly of the plane and instantly killed many children," said Kelpe-Eubanks.

The site was littered with debris, bodies, and destruction.

Rescuers pulled survivors from the wreckage, including baby Mindy.

She was put on the next flight out to the U.S.

Months later, Mindy was adopted by a Cape Girardeau family.

It was tough at first. While physically unscathed, she suffered emotionally. She had night terrors, and eventually unanswered questions, even survivor's guilt.

"Why did I survive, and many others didn't?" asked Kelpe-Eubanks.

But, she had hope...and a new country, America. She was free from crisis and war. She has never wanted to return to Vietnam.

"I know God was there that day," said Kelpe-Eubanks. "The family that has brought me here has raised me to be so strong in my faith with God and I wouldn't, I wouldn't change it."

She doesn't know her birth name, or anything about her biological parents.

The birth records were lost during the crash. The government later issued the survivors new birth certificates.

Throughout her life, Mindy has made connections with other survivors, including the pilot of her plane.

"He's the one that spent his life trying to find out why that plane crashed," she said. "If I ever flew again, he would be my pilot."

That network of survivors gives her comfort as she's still putting together the pieces of her past.

"I wouldn't change it. I wouldn't change anything about my life," said Kelpe-Eubanks.

After our interview, Mindy said she met another survivor online. That survivor is sending her a piece of a building that was collected in Saigon in 1975.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.
Powered by WorldNow

310 Broadway
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

FCC Public File
publicfile@kfvs12.com
573-335-1212
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KFVS12. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.