TAN SON NHUT --- During the night, men of C Flight, 17th Special Operations
Squadron here, take their AC-119 Shadow gunships into action against the enemy in support of
Allied ground troops.
During the day, they fight a different kind of enemy - poverty. The
"troops" they support are the children of Thong Thien Hoc Orphanage in Saigon
The orphanage has 40 children ranging in age from two months to three years.
Most are orphaned by war, but some are simply abandoned by poverty-stricken parents.
Many are sick when they arrive at Thong Thien Hoc, and all are hungry and poorly clotherd.
The orphanage staff consists of a nurse, eight workers and the director. Mrs.
Phan Thi Hang. Mrs. Hang stated, "My eight helpers are really adult orphans who
decided to stay here to assist me with the babies. In return, they receive room,
board and a small salary."
The Republic of Vietnam government contributes money to the orphanage each month.
The building is provided and maintained by a nearby church of the Thong Thien Hoc
religion, a combination of Buddhist and Catholic philosophies.
Every two weeks, men of the 17th SOS visit Thong Thien Hoc and deliver powdered milk,
diapers, baby vitamins and clothing. Often, toys are included. Capt
Moritmer J. Hall remarked, "When these special gifts are distributed, the expressions on the
faces of the little children are indescribable. For most, it is the first toy they
have ever been given."
The Air Force men always visit with the children, when delivering the gifts.
Most of the items given to the orphanage are furnished by citizens in the United States.
People from Kansad, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Virginia contribute.
As a result of this combined effort, the babies and young children are healthier and stand a
good chance of growing up to be worthwhile citizens of the Republic of Vietnam.