Largest Sealift in World History - Forgotten
Veterans of Sealift - Forgotten
MILLERSVILLE, Pa., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The largest sealift in world history and the veterans who facilitated the sealift have largely been forgotten in history books and by the American people. That's according to Dr. Ronald B. Frankum, Jr., history professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. "As we celebrate Veterans Day 2007 on November 11th, it would be a good time to reflect on one of the most remarkable events in our nation's military history," said Frankum, who has chronicled America's involvement in Operation Passage to Freedom. The July 1954 Geneva Agreements established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Republic of Vietnam and it provided a 300 day period for the Vietnamese to relocate freely to either country. As a result, U.S. Navy ships transported 310,000 Vietnamese by sea who fled the communist north in hopes of a better life in the south. "What the American sailors accomplished during the 10 months of the operation forever changed the lives of the Vietnamese who received transportation, food and medical care on the 110 ships involved," said Frankum. "The Americans poured out their hearts to these people and really helped give them an opportunity at a new life. One day they'd be handing out medicine and food; the next day they would act as a father, uncle, or brother. It was a real humanitarian mission." Frankum believes the story has gone unnoticed because it's a 'feel good story' on the military that was overshadowed by the Vietnam War. "The early successes the Navy had in 1954-1955 never grabbed the attention of scholars or the American media," Frankum stated. "We never hear about the heroes in this war and these sailors were real American heroes." "These veterans did what people in the military do everyday; they helped people," said Frankum. "If you see a problem, you fix it. That was their mentality. But they did not do the job for publicity; they did it because the peopled needed help." After conducting research and interviewing more than 40 sailors who took part in the operation, Frankum wrote "Operation Passage to Freedom," which was published this year by the Texas Tech University Press. "In "Operation Passage to Freedom" I wanted to recognize the positive accomplishments of a group of men, in a war where there weren't many positive events," said Frankum. "This is a time to remember and celebrate America's military and this was one of its greatest accomplishments."
SOURCE Millersville University
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