Touching. Thank you.
Miracle on the Last Helicopter out of Viet Nam
Jerry Kendall, a friend of mine, told me this story. I was astounded, did some research to corroborate it, and felt you needed to hear it…
41 years ago, April 29, 1975, Saigon was in chaos. Knowing they faced reprisals, desperate Vietnamese scrambled to board helicopters landing on the roof of the US embassy.
The photo above is iconic – the image of the dramatic end of a painful era is etched on the collective consciousness.
But what do we know about who flew the last helicopter and who was in it? Jerry Kendall knows. His uncle, David Kendall, was a pilot for Air America, the contractor flying the helicopters. He flew the last flight.
Kendall had to make the life-and-death decisions about who could go and who had to stay. As he surveyed the crowd of people clamoring to board the helicopter, he saw a woman and her four children and he told them to get on the chopper. “Let the children come first,” he said.
After he returned home, Kendall didn’t talk about the war much, but he did mention the woman and her children to his wife, Ruth. Then, less than a year after coming back to the States, he died in an auto accident.
Twenty years later, Ruth was in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, visiting her sister. They were eating lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant and happened to talk to the owner, a woman named Mykha, on the way out. “My sister Ruth has been to your country,” she said.
“When did you come to the U.S.?” Ruth asked.
“1975; I was in the last helicopter out of Saigon.”
“Mykha, my husband was the last pilot of the last helicopter out of Saigon!”
Mykha looked at Ruth in shock. Later she recounted, “It dropped me from the moon to the earth. We both started crying and hugged each other. We cried so much.”
Her sister showed Mykha a picture of David. She remembered him right away.
“It’s a miracle,” Mykha said. She remembered what it was like, “Before disappearing from our sight, the last of them shot tear-gas bombs at us, and then slammed the doors closed. We couldn’t see and could hardly breathe. People were running in all directions, screaming and stumbling over those who’d fallen.”
“He saved my life and gave my children a future. I have always wanted to say thank you.”
During his life, David had always said, “When it’s my time to go, the Lord will take me. He’ll know when my purpose is used up.”
Reflecting on the miraculous meeting, Ruth said, “When I met Mykha, I realized that she was his purpose.”
Touching. Thank you.
Thank you for the touching story. Jerry Kendall is named, but I don’t have knowledge of who he is relative to AIM or WorldRace, Is there a connection?
Yes, Jerry is Kristin Rene Kendall’s father. She is a spiritual daughter to Karen and I and her dad is a frequent guest in our home.
Powerful story. Thanks for sharing.
Amazing people. I love these true accounts that are so inspiring