Bernie “Doc” Duff


Bernie “Doc” Duff: Welcome Home: Persident Gerald Ford - Operation Baby Lift

Artist’s Note: President Gerald R. Ford carried this infant baby off of the plane shortly after it arrived in California in 1975. This was the first group of orphan children to safely arrive on US soil following their evacuation from Saigon, Vietnam, during the waning moments of the war. The C5A Cargo Plane that embarked for the US just prior to this flight, on April 4, 1975, crashed about 2 miles North of Saigon’s airport (in an area now located in District 12, HCMC), killing many orphans and volunteers aboard. This painting is based upon an actual photo of President Ford holding a baby on board an Air Force bus shortly after carrying her off in his arms. It will be donated to The President Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 22, 2007.

In creating this painting, I added soil, incense, ashes, and fragments of the tail section of the downed C5A Cargo plane to my paint, which can easily be seen, or felt, when close enough to do so. These are part of the infant’s pajamas and will forever be a part of this painting. After presenting this painting to Jack Ford (the late President’s son) in Grand Rapids, I will bring back something from the museum to leave with the spirits of the children and volunteers who lost their lives during the evacuation.