The Orphans Of Jerry Ford
By WILLIAM H. MARSHNER
May 29, 1975
Mr. Ford’s highly touted rescue of the Mayaguez and its crew from Koh Tang Island contains an element of bitter irony. The operation brought scores of U.S. naval vessels and hundreds of U.S. aircraft within 40 miles of another island, where there is something much more important to rescue.
The other island is Phu Quoc. On it are 42,000 refugees from Communist aggression, two-thirds of them Roman Catholics. Many are orphan children. At least three hundred of them are nuns. Some of the priests there are the very ones who 20 years ago led their congregations in toto, on foot, from Hanoi to the South, seeking safety. This Spring, when Hue and Da Nang fell, the same congregations moved again to Phu Quoc, sometimes with the help of U.S. naval vessels. Now the same vessels steam by and ignore them.