U.S. Air Force Captain Dennis “Bud” Traynor was the pilot of Travis AFB, California, C-5A 68-0218 used for the initial Operation Babylift mission in 1975. The airlift operation was a mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the U.S. and other countries. When the C-5 departed Tan Son Nhut Airport in Saigon on 4 April 1975, an explosion on board tore apart the rear fuselage. Captain Traynor and co-pilot Captain Tilford Harp skilfully and against all odds managed the aircraft’s rate of descent and crash landed in a rice paddy unable to return to Tan Son Nhut’s runway. Of the 328 people on board, 175 survived including Captains Traynor and Harp.
Captain Traynor’s cap was in his flight suit pocket when the crash occurred.