An Ordinary Nurse – Part 1 of 2

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, August 9th, 2012

One hundred little babies lay three and four to a cardboard box, strapped in the belly of a gutted cargo jet. It was 1975, Saigon was falling to the Communists, and I was accidentally caught up in the Vietnam Orphan Airlift.

How, you ask, did a 25-year-old nurse and mom get caught up in the rescue of babies as bombs exploded outside the city? And how did that “ordinary nurse” become a professional speaker and author?

I still have no idea.  I was quite happy caring for patients at the hospital and OB clinic.  I never intended to be a speaker.  All I ever intended to do was buy a dozen cupcakes at that bake sale hosted by Friends of Children of Vietnam. I wanted to make a difference, so I bought some cupcakes…and a pie…and some cookies…and I picked up a brochure…and went to the next meeting…and before I knew it I was the chapter president and my basement the Iowa Chapter headquarter of Friends of Children of Vietnam.

We ten members, many of us nurses working together at the hospital, did all we could to raise awareness and supplies for the orphans.  Then the national office asked me the fateful question: would I escort six babies from Vietnam to their adoptive homes in the United States.

Between the time I said yes and the time I arrived, bombs were falling outside of Saigon, President Ford had okayed Operation Babylift, and I helped strap not six, but 100 babies into cardboard boxes in a C-130 military cargo jet!  And in the midst of this chaos, a baby boy crawled into my arms, my heart, and our family. We had a son!

Video of my Operation Baby Lift story:

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

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