For countless Americans, appalled by the death of 140 children in the crash of an Air Force cargo plane ferrying Vietnamese orphans to the U.S., the horror of the moment was captured forever in the anguished face of Mrs. Naomi Bronstein (right). But in most news accounts she was identified as nothing more than a rescue worker. In fact, Mrs. Bronstein, a 29-year-old Montreal housewife with 11 children, has been a remarkable mainstay of the Vietnam orphan adoption program for years. She was in Saigon again, arranging for a planeload of children to Canada, when she learned of the crash. Commandeering an orphanage ambulance, she arrived at the crash scene within minutes and began rushing the injured to hospitals.
Mrs. Bronstein’s involvement with Vietnam began in 1971 when she and her husband, a 33-year-old knitting mill sales manager, began to look into adopting a child. Outraged to learn that children of mixed parentage were languishing in orphanages all over the world, she decided to do something about it. Since then she has adopted six children herself (three from Vietnam, one from Cambodia, another from Ecuador, and a sixth of racially mixed Canadian parents) and shepherded 650 others to new homes in various countries. Though she is anxious to see more orphans rescued from chaotic Vietnam, she is dismayed by the current scrimmaging for children. “Where were all these people a year ago?” she asks angrily. “If we had brought these children out in orderly groups over the past two years, think how many could have been saved!”