Very little has been written about the U.S. Navy in Vietnam in the immediate post--Korean War era, nor has the magnitude of American participation in the resettlement of Vietnam refugees following the 1954 Geneva Conference been explored. Beginning in the fall of 1954, U.S. Navy ships, as a part of Task Force 90, helped to relocate thousands of displaced North Vietnamese to South Vietnam following the separation of the nation at the 17th parallel. What those sailors accomplished during the three hundred days of Operation Passage to Freedom forever changed the lives of more than 310,000 Vietnamese who traveled on their ships.
In Operation Passage to Freedom Ronald B. Frankum, Jr. recounts the events surrounding this enormous humanitarian evacuation that was the American military's first major involvement with the Vietnamese people. Based on archival research and interviews with more than forty sailors who participated in Task Force 90, Operation Passage to Freedom illuminates a mission that has been all but forgotten and also explores how the initial humanitarian involvement of the United States in Vietnam eventually led to massive military involvement in the 1960s and 1970s.
Ronald B. Frankum, Jr., formerly associate director and archivist of the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University, is assistant professor of History at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. He is author of Like Rolling Thunder: The Air War in Vietnam, 1964-1975 and The United States and Australia in Vietnam, 1954-1968: Silent Partners