MARY T KLINKER
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HONORED ON PANEL 1W, LINE 122 OF THE WALL

MARY THERESE KLINKER

WALL NAME

MARY T KLINKER

PANEL / LINE

1W/122

DATE OF BIRTH

10/03/1947

CASUALTY PROVINCE

BIEN HOA

DATE OF CASUALTY

04/04/1975

HOME OF RECORD

LAFAYETTE

COUNTY OF RECORD

Tippecanoe County

STATE

IN

BRANCH OF SERVICE

AIR FORCE

RANK

CAPT

THIS NAME WILL BE READ AS PART OF THE READING OF THE NAMES ON

11/10/2022 at 11:40pm

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REMEMBRANCES

LEFT FOR MARY THERESE KLINKER
POSTED ON 9.18.2005
POSTED BY: CLAY MARSTON

IN COMMMEMORATION AND REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE ON ' OPERATION BABYLIFT ' ON 4 APRIL 1975 - 30 YEARS LATER ... ALWAYS REMEMBERED


OPERATION BABYLIFT - 30 YEARS LATER ...

ALWAYS REMEMBERED

On April 4, 1975, the first Air Force aircraft evacuating Vietnamese orphans from Saigon, South Vietnam, crash landed shortly after takeoff.

On board, were flight and medical crews that valiantly saved 176 of the 314 passengers.

One of those people was flight nurse (then) Lieutenant Regina Aune.

She became the first woman to receive the Cheney Award, recognizing an act of valor "in a humanitarian interest performed in connection with aircraft." She did it saving orphans during "Operation Babylift."


As the Vietnam War wound down, President Gerald Ford pledged that 2,000 orphans, many of them fathered by American troops, would be brought to the United States.

The airlift, called Operation Babylift, began on 4 April 1975.

At Clark Air Base, the Philippines, a Saigon-bound C-5 Galaxy picked up a medical team headed by Aune.

The C-5 had never been used on such a medical mission before, and none of the medical team had ever been in a C-5 before.

All the way to Tan Son Nhut, the medical crew had hoped they wouldn't need to use the cargo hold, but after landing, they learned there would be 328 people, including crew members, leaving Saigon, so they had no choice.

The Galaxy was packed with orphans, squeezed in 10 abreast in seats that normally held three people.

The C-5s troop compartment was filled with 145 orphans and seven attendants. The cargo compartment held 102 orphans and 47 others. Some of the children were only days old. Taking care of them was going to be hectic, but Aune and the other medical crew members were in high spirits as aircraft commander Capt. Dennis "Bud" Traynor lifted the huge plane through 23,000 feet.

The first flight of Operation Babylift was airborne.

A few minutes out of Saigon, Aune and Captain Mary Klinker, another medical team member, were in the cargo hold. They were called on to treat a sick passenger.

Aune climbed a ladder at the rear of the giant aircraft that led to the troop compartment where the medicine was stored. As she started back, an explosion blew off the plane's pressure door, center cargo door and a large section of the loading ramp rear of the cargo compartment. Instantaneous decompression filled the fuselage with fog and dust. The temperature dropped; communications between the flight deck and the troop deck were severed.

Pens, eyeglasses and comic books flew around the interior; pieces of insulation were torn from the walls. Pillows exploded.

Traynor immediately turned back toward Saigon and began a rapid descent. He and his co-pilot nursed the C-5 back to within two miles of Tan Son Nhut, where they touched down in a rice paddy at about 270 knots.

The impact of the crash crushed the cargo deck and killed Klinker, her medical technicians and 141 of 149 orphans and attendants. Only three children of 152 in the troop compartment were killed. In all, 176 of the 328 aboard survived.

Aune was standing in the aisle in the troop compartment when the Galaxy went down. The impact hurled her the length of the compartment. When she tried to drag herself to her feet, she realized her right foot was broken. She was also bleeding heavily from cuts in her left arm and leg.

Unsteadily, she made her way to an emergency exit and began helping the crew and surviving medics remove children from the shattered aircraft.

The wreckage was waist-deep in mud and water. Debris lay all around, saturated with leaking fuel. Burning parts of the plane were all around. One spark could turn the crash scene into an inferno.

Five minutes later, rescue helicopters arrived. They were unable to land and hovered close to the wreckage.

Aune and other team members waded again and again through the mud to hovering helicopters, carrying terrified children. Finally, unable to go on, she staggered toward an approaching officer. She managed to stand straight and said, "Sir, I request to be relieved of my duties since my injuries prevent me from carrying on." Then she passed out.

Later, at a Saigon hospital, it was discovered that, in addition to her broken foot, she had a fractured leg and a broken bone in her back. Despite her injuries she had helped carry 149 children to safety.

Later, decorations and awards were given out to many of the survivors of the crash.

Traynor and his co-pilot were awarded the Air Force Cross. Klinker was the last U.S. servicewoman to die in the Vietnam conflict and was posthumously awarded the Airman's Medal.

Now a colonel, Aune became the only woman to receive the Cheney Award.

Thanks to their bravery, Operation Babylift continued, successfully.

Sources compiled from the AeroMed Evac Association and Los Alamos National Laboratory newsletters.


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POSTED ON 4.9.2005
POSTED BY: Bob Ross

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Mary Frye – 1932
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POSTED ON 2.6.2004
POSTED BY: Richard

In remembrance

A remembrance of Mary Theresa Klinker is included in the nonfiction book "Potpourri of War" by Noonie Fortin (published in 1998 by Langmarc Publishing). We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to her and the other members of our military who gave so much.
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POSTED ON 4.16.2003
POSTED BY: L.Kennedy

Thank You!!

Well, even though I never got the privilege of meeting you, you're still like a hero to me, someone that I can look up to. I think that it took much bravery and courage to do what you did and what many other people did, and I respect you and them for that. Thank You, for being someone to look up to!
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POSTED ON 4.9.2003
POSTED BY: Whitney Lyons

admiration

Mary-
When I have learned about the past wars, I hear mostly of the MEN who fought and died for our country, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across your name. I am very proud of you for all your efforts, and you have my upmost respect and admiration. I wish that I could have met you and asked you what the entire experience was like. In my eyes, you are a hero. Thank you and God bless.
Sincerely,
Whitney Lyons
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