Operation Frequent Wind was the last phase in the evacuation of American civilians and “at risk” Vietnamese from Saigon, and took place April 29th and April 30th, 1975. Operation Frequent Wind is the largest helicopter evacuation, and was also the first major operation that involved the use of US Air Force helicopters from an aircraft carrier.
With the fall of Saigon imminent, U.S. policy involved removing “at risk” Vietnamese who had supported efforts to stop the Communist takeover of South Vietnam.
More than 7,000 Americans and Vietnamese refugees escaped from Saigon as the North Vietnamese attacked the outskirts of the city. For nearly 30 hours, American military helicopters flew refugees to aircraft carriers offshore. Helicopters that were built for 10 people were taking five times as many.
Agitated and confused men, women and children held onto what few possessions they could carry in their arms, until they were set for take off.