Humanitarian relief in Vietnam

30 Mar 1975

A C-130 (A97-160) took off from RAAF Base Butterworth, Malaysia, bound for Saigon (the then capital of the Republic of Vietnam), to join an international relief effort for tens of thousands of civilian refugees displaced during a major Communist military offensive which would ultimately collapse the southern regime. In response to this humanitarian crisis, Australia formed Detachment ‘S’––an ad hoc transport force of C-130s from Richmond, NSW, and two Dakotas from Butterworth––to assist with the distribution of Red Cross supplies and other non-military tasks. Within two weeks, the detachment had grown to total eight C-130s, which used Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Airport as their base. When the general security situation in Saigon deteriorated in mid-April, the detachment was forced to shift its base to Don Muang Airport at Bangkok, Thailand, and operate daily into Saigon for the last week of operations. Australian’s Ambassador and embassy staff were evacuated by the Air Force on 25 April, shortly before the fall of Saigon on 30 April.