History in Two: Operation NEW ARRIVAL - Eglin provides new hope to refugees Published Nov. 17, 2023 By Alan D. Landers, 96th Test Wing Historia Air Force Materiel Command History Office Stories of the Vietnam war are wrought with frustration, from the draft of young recruits to difficult fighting conditions to the eventual fall of Saigon to the Communists. One story, that was a bright ray of light shining beyond a failed war in Southeast Asia was Operation NEW ARRIVAL. Amid rapidly deteriorating conditions in Saigon, Eglin Air Force Base would become the landing zone for many Vietnamese families, who would eventually become American citizens. Operation NEW ARRIVAL, receiving over 10,000 refugees was successful through a cohesive teamwork of military, robust community support, and detailed planning based upon urgent need to resettle Vietnamese considered at-risk from the incoming Communist regime. Aerial view of tent city at Eglin Air Force Base. Amid rapidly deteriorating conditions in Saigon, Eglin Air Force Base would become the landing zone for many Vietnamese families, who would eventually become American citizens. Operation NEW ARRIVAL, receiving over 10,000 refugees was successful through a cohesive teamwork of military, robust community support, and detailed planning based upon urgent need to resettle Vietnamese considered at-risk from the incoming Communist regime. Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Auxiliary Field 2, located on FL 285, served as a training facility for Hurlburt Field's 823d RED HORSE Squadron (RHS) during the Vietnam war. During construction the camp, 823 RHS was among over 1,200 personnel to ready the site and begin building a tent city. Over 130 flights delivered materials and supplies, some directly to Pierce Field. Within only days, on May 4, 1975, the first 373 refugees arrived at Eglin, ready to begin a new future. Within only one month, the Eglin processing center had received over 5,200 Vietnamese, some of which were resettled in the local area, and elsewhere with the support of sponsor families. By July, the refugee population peaked at just over 6,000. Newsletters kept refugees informed during Operation NEW ARRIVAL. Photo Details / Download Hi-Res By August 1975, the camp was nearing its planned end, in anticipation of the Emerald Coast hurricane season. In four months, the camp had processed and relocated over 10,000 Vietnamese, including 28 "new arrivals", born in the camp. Only about 1,000 refugees remained at the end of August. By September 15, the final refugees departed, and the Operation NEW ARRIVAL camp closed four days later, followed by the landfall of Hurricane Eloise that left 2x4’s of the tent city resembling “toothpicks.”. NEW ARRIVAL provided the blueprint for future humanitarian responses and coordination with sister services, other agencies, and as always reliant support of the Emerald Coast Community. The coordinated planning efforts resulted in safe lodging as well as providing a launch pad for the future of thousands of Vietnamese Americans. Read the complete document at https://media.defense.gov/2023/Nov/17/2003343160/-1/-1/1/OP%20NEW%20ARRIVAL%20HN2%20-%2017%20NOV%202023.PDF/OP%20NEW%20ARRIVAL%20HN2%20-%2017%20NOV%202023.PDF SOURCES: Bruce Rolfsen, "Refugees brought war home: As Saigon fell, a Tent city went up on Eglin's Field 2," Northwest Florida Daily News, 30 April 1995. ADTC/HO, "Operation NEW ARRIVALS Phase I-The Buildup," July 1975. ADTC/HO, "Operation NEW ARRIVALS Phase II-The Pipeline," August 1975. ADTC/HO, Operation NEW ARRIVALS Chronology-Eglin Refugee Processing Center (27 April 1975-19 September 1975), n.d.