- Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphan's Rescue from War
Among the children aboard the last Canadian evacuation flight at the 1975 fall of [End Page 532] Saigon was eight-year-old Son Thi Anh Tuyet, a girl crippled by polio and scarred by war, who found herself abruptly herded from her orphanage into a van with babies hastily packed into boxes, whisked away to an airfield, and loaded into a Hercules cargo plane. So sheltered had she been inside the orphanage that Tuyet did not recognize an airplane, but accustomed to unquestioning obedience, she promptly pitched in to help care for the squalling babies. Little by little she began to realize that the flight would eventually take her far away where there was no war, and where fortunate children were placed with families. Her adoption into the Morris family of Toronto initially proved to Tuyet as much an occasion for anxiety as joy. While she appreciated the welcoming warmth of her new parents and siblings, the utter strangeness of her surroundings and her fear of failure and rejection complicated her period of adjustment. Underwear, elevators, stars, cold air, salad dressing, a lawn, a toothbrush, and a dad all lay beyond her frame of reference, but determination, patience, and affection soon carried the day. Skrypuch, who originally intended Tuyet's experience to take the form of a novel, opted instead for a nonfiction presentation as interviews helped Tuyet reclaim many of her early memories and participate in retelling her own story. This biographical approach helps to humanize a war that, for most readers, may seem like ancient history, and the tight focus on the airlift and Tuyet's first days with the Morrises reminds readers that they are sharing the experiences of an agemate. Black and white photographs from the airlift are included, as well as an index and a brief list of resources for further reading and viewing.