Flint author tells of surviving Vietnam plane crash - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flint author tells of surviving Vietnam plane crash

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(11/08/12) - A Flint man has written a book about a terrible plane crash in Vietnam. He was on a humanitarian mission 37 years ago when disaster struck.

As the war in Vietnam wound down in 1975, thousands of orphans were flown to the United States. Flint native Phillip Wise, an Air Force medical evacuation technician, was assigned to accompany one flight during Operation Babylift.

"Saigon was about to fall and they were concerned about the Amer-asian kids that were trapped in the war," said Phillip Wise, author of "Fragile Delivery."

Just 15 minutes into the flight, the gigantic USAF C-5A was over the South China Sea when the unthinkable happened.

"The rear cargo doors blew off in flight and the ramp blew off as well," Wise said.

The pilot, Dennis Traynor of Flushing, managed to turn the plane around and crash land in a rice paddy, but the impact killed dozens onboard.

"My left leg was entangled in wire cables. I was hanging upside down in the burning wreckage," Wise remembers.

He was taken to the Philippines for treatment of severe injuries.

"What really affected me was the trauma of the crash. It took me many years to talk about it," he said.

Wise was one of six crew members aboard that flight that received the Airman's Medal. It's the Air Force's highest award for heroism during peace time.

In 2010, Phillip Wise traveled back to Vietnam with other survivors.

"We went to the crash site and had a memorial service," he said.

Wise says he didn't write his tale of survival at the time because there was still a lot of national resentment about the war. But time has proven to be a great healer.

"I felt I had a positive story to share with America and that encouraged me to write my own story and tell of Operation Babylift," he said.

Wise published "Fragile Delivery" in October and says sales have been encouraging.      

For information on ordering the book, click here.       

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