Vietnam hero Tisdale returns to Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - 35 years ago as the war in Vietnam spiraled toward an end, an American woman fought against the dangers in that country to save hundreds of its children.

That woman, Betty Tisdale, is back in Columbus to reunite with more than 50 of those orphans that she saved.

Betty Tisdale flew back to Columbus this week for just the second time since she left in 1982.

You could call her trip a family reunion.

"To care for children that no one wanted, that was the whole thing, especially living in a war-torn country," Tisdale said.

Tisdale's crusade to fly 219 Vietnamese orphans from An Lac in 1975 to the United States proved to be a monumental event, both for her and the children.

60 of those orphans, given an identity in the U.S., and adopted by families across the country will spend the weekend with the woman many still call their mother.

For Tisdale, it was an unintentional consequence of doing what she thought was right.

"I didn't really know that it would be my life's work, really. So, I guess it was the fact that I felt, I guess, I felt so fortunate to be born in this country, and no matter how you grow up, there's always somebody that can help you," Tisdale said.

Jason Robertson, one of the 219 orphans rescued by Tisdale is now 39.

He still lives in Columbus and organized this reunion.

Robertson says it's more than just an homage to Tisdale's work, but a statement that something good came out of a war labeled as so bad.

"Now, it's like, you know what, I want people to see, that amidst all the adversity, all the negativity, there was a woman that was doing something...and our troops were very involved with that," Robertson said.

Tisdale's work continues today.

At 87 years old, she is currently preparing for a trip to Afghanistan to aid orphans in that country.