The Lucky Few: The Story of USS Kirk (complete film)

The Lucky Few is an hour long documentary about the story of the USS Kirk and its crew in their incredible mission to rescue Vietnamese refugees during Operation Frequent Wind in the final days of the Viet Nam War.

As the War was coming to an end on April 29th to 30th, 1975, Operation Frequent Wind airlifted about 7100 “at risk” Vietnamese (to death from the Communist Viet Cong) and American civilians out of Sai Gon, the capital of South Viet Nam. Some lifts were scheduled. Others were not. The relative American small warship USS Kirk, a destroyer escort, and its crew suddenly found themselves in the midst of a flock of unscheduled airlifts, to which it admirably accommodated even though it was neither meant nor ready to do any such thing.

Following that ordeal, it led a convoy of 32 Vietnamese Navy ships packed to the max with about 31,000 refugees to safety in the Philippines over the course of a week. That’s one ship of about 250 crew doing this work in carrying out one of the most significant humanitarian missions in U.S. military history. The crew worked tirelessly and professionally, showing as much heart and dedication as any group of people you’ll ever find. They treated the Vietnamese people with respect and dignity at a time when they needed most in leaving their country at the end of a long and brutal war.

The Lucky Few: The Story of the USS Kirk, embedded at bottom, details the amazing story of the ship and crew during Operation Frequent Wind. through reflections by people on both sides of the mission years 34 later, accompanied by many photos during the mission. If you don’t have an hour to watch it now, please come back later when you do. If you aren’t sure you want to watch it, see if the trailer below will move you more than the description I have written.

The full movie below was created (not by me) from video capture during a showing of the movie, so it isn’t a digitization of the movie itself. If I ever find one, I will replace the embedded movie below.

There is a Vietnamese introduction till 2:22, but the rest is in English, so please don’t think the film is in Vietnamese. Then there is an introduction by Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson Jr. until 4:45 before the film begins. The initial minutes of video capture are not great as the camera angle and ability to grab the entire movie screen onto the video screen isn’t great. However, it gets better in minutes and the video capture is very watchable… aside from a few moments of people for whom the traumatic emotions and memories got to be too much for them.

But an amazing documentary, all around. I hope you will find the time to watch this film and appreciate everything about it, the people in it and the events it captured.

20 thoughts on “The Lucky Few: The Story of USS Kirk (complete film)

    • Unless you were there – SHUT UP! I was there and it is Saigon, not Sai gon, the streets were far from being empty as thousands were trying to escape the onslaught of the Cong and North Vietnamese Regulars who sat outside the city (shelling those escaping by mortars and amall arm fire. That’s a sure tell tail sign that the writer wasn’t there and is using this DVD and other misinformation to make himself something he is not. The Kirk was not the Command Flag ship. The USS Blueridge was the Command ship and the refugees where boated out by large Merchant Marine vessels. The Exodus was much greater than one can imagine. I was aboard the USS American Racer with 4,200 Vietnamese refugees and 30 Embassy personnel that we sailed to Subic Bay, had a night of R&R, and were en route to Guam at daylight. You want to know what Frequent Wind was all about, ask me. I have the original ops orders for Frequent Wind, besides being there and experiencing history as a very young Marine.

      • If your account is so credible, perhaps you should properly challenge the documentary because nobody else is speaking up about it being so inaccurate. You’ve got numbers against you, pal. That, plus spelling. Sai Gon is properly two words. You want to Americanize it to one, you go for it, but don’t go telling people they’re wrong when you don’t know. Doesn’t give you any credibility about anything else to say that’s a bit more important, you know what I’m saying?

    • To be honest, I don’t know. I haven’t seen any place where it could be purchased. However, I’m not all that knowledgeable about the matter. I suggest contacting the US Navy link in the post to see. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  1. To purchase copies of The Lucky Few DVDs, contact David Hyson, the Treasurer of the USS KIRK Association. David’s email: Hopefully David can assist you.

    I was stationed aboard USS KIRK during Operations Eagle Pull and Frequent Wind during the fall of Saigon — The Lucky Few is based on these events as they pertain to USS KIRK and those whom our ship was able to save.

    Following Frequent Wind, the remnants of the S. Vietnamese navy was escorted from Cambodian waters to the Philippines by USS KIRK. I volunteered and was assigned to ride the LU Phu Tho (HQ-229) under American flag to safe harbor. Other 2-man team crewmembers were assigned to the remaining S. Vietnamese ships.

    I’m very proud of USS KIRK and her crewmembers who unselfishly gave their all to assist fellow human beings in this time of unimaginable stress, grief and uncertainty. We were in the right place at the right time.

  2. Thank you officers and crew of the USS Kirk! My dad was a LTJG in the South Vietnamese Navy and they were refugees with the flotilla, with my mother and uncles. I am honored by your efforts and and service. Thanks for preserving a piece of my family’s history.

    -Lon Nguyen, LTJG, USCG

  3. As a crew members of HQ 3(Tran Nhat Duat) My tear rolling down when watching this video,it bring back so much memory of the journey to freedom,I never forget the face or emotion of HQ 3 crew members and peoples on the ship when we pull down Our Flag,South Vietnam Flag.
    Many Thanks to USS Kirk crews for your efforts and service,we will never forgot what all of you did for us.One again Thank You/ HTP

    Sorry for my bad Grammar(Kids not home to fixed or correct it for the old man)🙂

    • We’re happy to have you in the US! Immigrants like you will always be welcome as you know the hazards of a tyrannical government and will honor our Constitution!! We appreciate your thoughts that despite your struggling with our difficult language, you communicated your message quite well.

  4. One of the main ships was the USS Midway CV41. We rescued thousands including the last president of Viet Nam. No story is complete without CV 41.

  5. I served on the USS Tuscaloosa LST-1187 and was part of the evacuation fleet. We were with the Kirk during the Transit from Vung Tau to Subic Bay. It was a 7-day journey as the fastest refugee ships which totaled roughly 26; was about 6 knots. At that time I was a 3rd Class Boatswains Mate & Assault Boast Coxswain. I and our Boat Crews ferried food, water, medical supplies and repait teams to these ship 24/7 until we reached Suboc Bay. Two of the refugee ships suffered engine failure and became navigation hazards. Thus, we tranferred the refugees of these two ships to other refugee ships; then Tuscaloosa’s twin 50 CAL gun mounts fired upon the two ships and sank them. I am wondering why none of this is mentioned in the written article linked on the TWS werbsite.

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