Elephant Air-drops in Vietnam

Conflict: Vietnam

Tranquilized elephant traveling by chopper across Vietnam

In 1968, two elephants, Bonnie and Clyde, were flown to the village of Tra Bong, Vietnam by a CH-53 chopper. The elephants were desperately needed by the villagers to haul logs from the jungle to the sawmill.

Captain G.R. McCahan served in the Special Forces as a veterinarian and prepared the elephants for their flight with tranquilizers. The event was nicknamed by American troops “Operation Bahroom” due to the gaseous effects the tranquilizers had on the elephants.

Captain McCahan (right) with one of the young elephants after their flight

Each elephant weighed approximately three tons and was transported at the height of 3,ooo feet while under heavy narcotics. After months of planning with military forces, embassies and pharmaceutical experts, the operation was a success.

During the Vietnam War,  US troops gifted elephants to various villages to promote negotiations regarding their military presence. Villagers needed elephants to more easily perform their farm work in the jungle terrain, and American troops needed help from villagers to better access enemy routes, particularly the Ho Chi Minh trail.

For more information and images regarding elephants and the troops in Vietnam, see the Animals section under Photos-Vietnam Marine Corps.