North Korea Troop Drop
Within weeks of the outbreak of the Korean Conflict on June 25, 1950, an unusual assignment was presented to the 3d Air Rescue Squadron in Japan. A colonel from USAF Hdqrs, Washington, D, C. and a Chinese Colonel Lee were to head the special mission. A meeting of selected 3d ARS aircrew members from Flight A was assembled. A rescue hangar was designated as the staging location for the preparation of two B-17s and crew training and briefings.
Hangar windows were blacked out, hangar security completed and training commenced. Briefings withheld mission details. Pilots trained for low-level, night flying with no communications or navigation lights. Navigators received special instructions and briefings at FEAF Headquarters in Tokyo. Fifteen carefully selected targets in Northern Korea were identified as drop areas. The targets were sandbars that formed in river bends in the mountains near the Korean/Chinese border. The requirement for a mission GO was a full moon and clear skies in order to parachute trained Oriental personnel from 500 feet on the sandbars at night without being seen or heard. The B-17s were modified to drop personnel from the bomb-bays.
All conditions were GO for missions on September 22 and 23, 1950. The two special B-17s with trained crews departed Johnson AB late in the day for Miho AB on the Northern shore of Southwestern Honshu, Japan. Approximately 20 specially trained Orientals were loaded with parachutes and much radio gear and equipment on each B-17 for the 2300 hours departure from Miho. The Orientals were to be dropped in groups of four each at designated sandbars in rivers in mountainous terrain in Northern Korea. The Orientals were trained to establish ground radio stations and an information network to report any/all intelligence data.
With ideal conditions, the personnel parachute drops were made at 500 feet altitude by light of the moon. The mountains loomed on both sides of our aircraft as we approached each targeted sandbar. Bomb bay doors open, green light, troops out of the bomb bay. The evasion routes over Korea drew the only ground fire of the mission. Once clear of Korea, it was an easy flight enroute to the Sea of Japan and home base at Johnson AB. Total flight time from Miho to Korea to Johnson was 10 hours and 20 minutes.
Eight of us - six officers and two airmen - received the Distinguished Flying Cross for those top-secret missions on 22 and 23 September 1950 and 29 March 1951.
Eugene A. Scalise - Ellington 44-10