Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Midday Edition From The Midway: Special Coverage To Mark End Of Vietnam War

The USS Midway Museum sits in the San Diego Bay at North Harbor Drive near West E Street, April 22, 2015.
Milan Kovacevic
The USS Midway Museum sits in the San Diego Bay at North Harbor Drive near West E Street, April 22, 2015.

Midday Edition is taking its Friday show to the USS Midway Museum in downtown San Diego. The show starts at noon and is part of KPBS’ special coverage of the fall of Saigon, an event that marked the end of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975.

Midday Edition From The Midway: Special Coverage To Mark End Of Vietnam War
SPECIAL COVERAGE: KPBS Midday On The USS Midway GUESTS:Hugh Nguyen came to the U.S. from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon when he was 7 years old. He's now the Orange County clerk-recorder. Cindy Jensen worked in refugee resettlement with the International Rescue Committee for 39 years. Thao Ha came to the U.S. from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon when she was 18 months old. She's now a sociology professor at MiraCosta College. Jack Harkins, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, retired Scott McGaugh, marketing director, USS Midway Museum

As the world remembers the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, KPBS highlights the stories of San Diego County's Vietnamese refugees and Vietnam War veterans.

In the final hours of the war, a helicopter airlift brought thousands of Americans and South Vietnamese from Saigon to safety aboard the Midway, but not without some terrifying moments along the way.

In the aftermath of that historic transport, San Diego became the new home for many Vietnamese who escaped and for others who continue to arrive, sponsored by relatives living here.

Appearing on Midday Edition will be Orange County Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen, who was 7 when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. He and his family were part of the dramatic helicopter airlift that brought them to the Midway, then an active aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam.

Nguyen and his family were eventually put on a cargo ship and wound up at Camp Pendleton before being sponsored by an El Centro church. He will talk about his family’s journey to assimilate in America.

Another Nguyen family will be featured in a story by KPBS Speak City Heights reporter Megan Burks. They also began their life in America at Camp Pendleton, where thousands of refugees lived in tents in the weeks after the war ended.

Other stories that will air on the show include:

• Remembering the final hours of the Vietnam War. KPBS producer Patty Lane interviewed two Marines who were part of the Marine Security Guards, including Oceanside’s John J. Valdez. He oversaw the guards responsible for protecting the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

• USS Midway’s role at war’s end. KPBS Evening Edition host Peggy Pico tells the story of Vern Jumper, the Midway’s air boss during Operation Frequent Wind. He oversaw the landing and lift off of helicopters and other aircraft as the military worked to airlift from Saigon Americans and Vietnamese in the final two days of the Vietnam War.

• War not over for MIA families. KPBS reporter Susan Murphy tells the story of Marine Capt. Jerry Zimmer, whose plane was shot down in South Vietnam in 1969. He was declared missing in action, but his wife, Elaine Zimmer Davis of Point Loma, continues to work with the U.S. government to bring his remains home.

KPBS’ nightly television news show, Evening Edition, also will have special Vietnam coverage that airs live at 5 p.m. Friday. The show will be rebroadcast at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Friday, and at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.