The Lucky Few: The Story of the USS Kirk A Documentary Film by Jan Herman.

Author:Antosek, L. Edward
Position:Movie review


"The Lucky Few" documents the historic rescue of thousands of South Vietnamese refugees at the close of the Vietnam War. In particular, it recounts the selfless acts of heroism of the 260 Officers and Sailors of the US Navy ship USS Kirk (FF-1087). In April 1975 South Vietnam was in chaos and the North Vietnamese Army threatened Saigon. The crew of the USS Kirk, trained as warriors, was suddenly forced into an unexpected role in the evacuation of refugees from Saigon. Dubbed "Operation Frequent Wind," it was the final act of the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese Army had surrounded the city of Saigon, and there was panic and hysteria after the airport runway was bombed, cratered, and rendered unusable by Communist artillery. Americans and desperate South Vietnamese citizens boarded ships and aircraft heading out to sea to seek safety aboard the waiting ships of the Navy's Seventh Fleet. The USS Kirk was one of several ships in the task force. This is the story of her historic rescue efforts.

Film Description

Produced by Navy Medicine, "The Lucky Few" is introduced by VADM Adam Robinson, the current Navy Surgeon General. Not to divulge too much of the story, he provides an overview of "what the Navy does best," not only in time of war but also in peace, when the Navy provides healthcare and solace to people in distress. The film was written by Jan Herman, Historian for Navy Medicine, and produced by the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Vintage photographs and live video footage taken during the ship's historic feat enliven the film and give it an undeniable authenticity. Interspersed throughout the documentary are historic accounts of original members of the Kirk's crew, including Commander Paul Jacobs, USN, the ship's Commanding Officer.

Waves of helicopters suddenly appeared over the horizon and began landing aboard the Kirk with scores of Vietnamese refugees aboard each aircraft. The ship's crew quickly realized that the ship would be overwhelmed and decided to push the small UH-1 helicopters overboard to make room for waiting aircraft. The members of the crew, Officers and Sailors alike, acted as a team in sheltering, feeding, and providing medical care to the hoard of refugees, not only aboard the Kirk, but also for numerous other small Navy ships accepting refugees in the vicinity.

In a final desperate move, a South Vietnamese "Chinook" helicopter, packed with refugees, approached the ship. The aircraft was too large...

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