Operation Safe Haven (1957)

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Operation Safe Haven was a refugee relocation operation executed by the United States Marine Corps to evacuate 15,570-21,000 of the 270,000 Hungarian refugees to the United States following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The airlift was ordered by Dwight D. Eisenhower on Dec. 10, 1956, as a Cold War response to the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian revolt. It was a joint endeavor by the United States Bolling and Military Air Transport Services, the United States Navy, and various commercial aircraft. On January 1, 1957, air transports from the 1608th Air Transport Wing from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., and 175 aircraft from the 1611th Air Transport Wing from McGuire AFB, N.J., relocated 9,700 refugees to the United States, under the direction of Airlift Task Force commander Major General George B. Dany. In addition to air transport, from December 18, 1956, through February 14, 1957, ships of the Navy's Military Sea Transportation Service (USNS Eltinge, Haan, Marine Carp, and Walker) transported 8,944 refugees from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Camp Kilmer, NJ, USA. These refugees were job-classified by the U.S. Labor Department as they made their way to American shores.

On 1 March 2011, Budapest Mayor István Tarlós announced that the city would posthumously make Elvis Presley(1935–77) an honorary citizen, as well as name a small Park facing its second oldest crossing, the Margaret Bridge after him, as a gesture of gratitude for his involvement and appeal to lessen the plight of what was then known were hundreds of thousands of Hungarian refugees not covered by Operation Safe Heaven. The appeal began on Sunday 28 October 1956, as some 57 million viewers watched the Ed Sullivan Show which Presley was headlining for the second time. During that broadcast, a casual mention was made by Sullivan of the need to send aid but no appeal was formally made. This led to Presley's official request, on his third and last appearance at Sullivan's Show and as a further 54 million viewers watched on 6 January 1957, for Mr. Sullivan, this time on his personal behalf, to request viewers to send their contributions. This was done by Mr. Sullivan himself with Presley off-camera as per the singer's request on two separate occasions during the broadcast and leading up to Presley's dedication of a song which, in his opinion, fit the mood properly as the show's finale, namely the African American gospel song "Peace in the Valley".

By the end of 1957, some US$6 million were received by the Geneva-based International Red Cross, and which translated into food rations, clothing, and other essentials. These in turn were distributed with the help of the US Air Force, which flew 100 sorties to deliver the perishables and non perishables to the estimated 250,000 refugees, the majority of whom settled, for life, in Austria and England. As a result, Elvis Presley is the only US born person to be included in the list of people who were named as Honorary Citizens of Budapest, joining the father of the US Hydrogen bomb, Hungarian born, then US nationalized physicist Edward Teller as well as heads of State like Czech dissident and leader Václav Havel, Polish dissident, leader and Nobel´Prize laureate Lech Walesa, Swedish diplomat and martyr Raoul Wallenberg, as well as Hungarian nationals like top female chess Grandmaster Judith Polgar and inventor Erno Rubik, respectively