We all have fond memories of Father Crawford who helped us get the ACS “Teenagers” baseball team going.
I came across an article written by Joe Dantonio of World Airways, recalling his memories of his part in the 1975 Orphan Airlift from the Oakland Station point of view. In it he mentions the arrival of Father Crawford with his entire *flock* from Viet-nam.
Here is an exert from the article …
” … The 727 arrival was emotional in a different way. Polio still ran rampant in Viet Nam. No one there had ever heard of Jonas Salk or his vaccine. The result was some terribly disfigured children that found refuge in an orphanage run by an American Priest by the name of Father Crawford. As the infrastructure of Viet Nam collapsed, Father Crawford sought alternative arrangements for his charges. An orphanage in Oregon was closed and standing idle. Father Crawford and his entire flock, including the children, the Nuns, and other personnel were flown to Oakland by World Airways and transported to Oregon by bus. Many of these children were old enough to be suspicious of everyone in the strange environment they were entering. I was particularly impressed by the Mother Superior, who with exceptional dignity and warmth, dealt with everyone’s apprehensions. On arrival, one of the flight attendants felt compelled to converse with Mother Superior in academic French. Mother Superior was trying to console the children in Vietnamese and speaking to me in perfect English. Needless to say, French was soon eliminated from the communications circle.
The Father Crawford flight involvement spanned a comparatively few hours, but also left a permanent memory of how fortunate I have been. … ”
If you’d like to read the entire article Click Here.
Father Crawford brought 305 children out of Viet-nam, according to most reports.
Other bits and pieces about Father Crawford.
” … Rev. Robert Crawford, a Vincentian priest from Philadelphia who is pastor of Regina Pacis Church … ”
” … Regina Pacis Church is the one most frequented by foreign Catholics, particularly English-speaking Catholics, in Saigon. …”
” … Institutions directed from Regina Pacis Church include an orphanage with 300 children, a rehabilitation clinic for young polio victims and a school with nine grades, all staffed by nuns. … ”
” … an article by Father Robert Crawford in the Mindzenty Report, a conservative Catholic newsletter, recalls a great success story. Father Crawford, who rescued handicapped children when Saigon fell, said one boy, paralyzed from the waist down and uneducated, blossomed in the United States. The boy finished 12 years of school in five and went on to earn a doctorate in biochemistry. He is now a scientist at a major university. … ”
Some reports say Father Crawford first went to Oregon … other accounts say he took the children to Arizona establishing an orphanage there until he was able to find people to adopt the children after which he returned to Viet-nam … most accounts concur that he did in fact return to Viet-nam after it was under Communist rule. There seem to be conflicting reports as to what happened to him between the time he and his flock departed from Oakland, by bus, heading for Oregon. I’ve not been able to establish a time line of when he returned to Viet-nam, exactly. One report says a Father Bob Crawford was imprisoned in China, but does not say when.
I’ve often wondered how he found time to come to our baseball practices and games, given all the other things he was involved with in Saigon.
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