Largest Sealift in World History - Forgotten

Veterans of Sealift - Forgotten

Nov 05, 2007, 00:00 ET from Millersville University

    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
     "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