Unit Details

3rd Air Rescue Squadron

USAF Organizations in Korea 1950-1953 Judy G. Endicott


The function of air rescue, like that of air evacuation, was not new in the Korean war, but its performance was aided by new plane types and efficient management. The 2d and 3d Air Rescue Squadrons had been assigned to FEAF during World War II, but on 1 May 1949 they had been transferred to the world-wide Air Rescue Service, a subordinate to MATS.

During the Korean conflict the 2d Squadron's flights remained at Clark, Kadena, and Anderson, but the 3d Squadron, participated more directly in the war. The latter was initially divided into four flights - based at Johnson, Yokota, Misawa, and Ashiya - to which another was added when part of the 5th Air Rescue Squadron, at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado, was dispatched to the Far East on 7 July. A sixth flight, called Detachment "F," was organized with H-5 helicopters during August. In Korea, this detachment provided normal air rescue service and also transported badly wounded ground troops from the front lines to base hospitals at Pusan.

 Assignment of additional personnel almost doubled the size of the 3d Squadron between July and November 1950. In its work the 3d Squadron employed SB-17, SB-29, SA-16, C-47, H-5, and L-5 type aircraft. So many
different types caused maintenance difficulties, and the newly arrived SA-16's (the first four reached Misawa on 28 July) suffered from supply problems as well. At one time all four of the amphibians were
grounded for want of parts, but improved supplies lowered the SA-16 AOCP rate from 60 percent in September to 25 percent during October.






June 25, 1950

Headquarters received notification of the Korean incident and alerted all flights. Instructions were issued to arm each SB-17with one hundred (100) rounds of 50 caliber ammunition. All flights were immediately placed on a seven (7) day week, twenty-four (24) hour day.

A SB-17 from flight "C" located at Haneda Air Base, because of an evacuation from Misawa, was diverted to Johnson AB. The Fifth Air Force training Field Order testing the aerial defenses of Okinawa was still in progress with a Flight "D", SB-17 accomplishing a reconnaissance to Okinawa and return.


July 7, 1950

to which another was added when part of the 5th was dispatched to the Far East on 7 July.


also see  563 Rescue Group (AFSOC) from inseption thru present.


3d Air Rescue Group

The 3d Air Rescue Squadron was based at Johnson Air Force Base, Japan. It conducted air rescue operations from Japan and deployed lettered detachments to Korea. It was augmented by 2d Air Rescue Squadron (later Group) personnel from the Philippines. In November 1952, the squadron was redesignated the 3d Air Rescue Group and the existing detachments became squadrons. The group headquarters remained at Johnson, but its squadrons operated in Korea for the duration.

36th, 37th, 38th, 39th, and 2157th Air Rescue Squadrons
SB-17H, SB-29, SC-47, SA-16, H-5A, H-19


The 3rd Rescue (later, Air Rescue) Squadron, following the North Korean invasion, deployed detachments to Korea to perform search and rescue. Initially the squadron's primary mission involved intercepting and escorting distressed aircraft over the land areas of Japan and its adjacent seas. Combat operations and a changing tactical situation expanded the mission to include the rescue of stranded personnel behind enemy lines and aeromedical helicopter evacuation. The 3rd ARS was regularly augmented with personnel from the 2nd ARS (later redesignated 2nd Air Rescue Group) based in the Philippines.

July 22: The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Boxer (CV-21) arrived in Japan with 145 USAF F-51s aboard. The 3rd ARS deployed the first H-5 helicopter in Korea to Taegu.


The aircraft available at the start of the Korean War forced the 3rd ARS to confine air rescue flights to short range rescue. These included the


During the UN assault on Pyongyang in October 1950, it evacuated forty-seven injured paratroopers from drop zones at Sunchon and Sukchon. In March 1951, the squadron tested the new model H-19 helicopter, which proved invaluable in multiple evacuations and greatly extended the operational range for rotary-wing rescues. A significant innovation in the use of the helicopter was medical evacuation. For critically wounded soldiers at front-line aid stations, helicopter medical evacuations reduced a possibly fatal ten-to-fourteen-hour road trip to a one-hour flight to a rear

Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit.

In December 1951, H-5s participated in a highly successful experiment by flying wounded soldiers directly from front-line aid stations to a hospital ship off the Korean coast. In November 1952, the 3rd elevated to group level, and squadrons replaced the detachments. From June 1950 to the end of hostilities in July 1953, it rescued almost 10,000 UN personnel, almost 1,000 from behind enemy lines, and over 200 from the water. For numerous commendable and heroic rescues, the 3rd ARS/ARG earned three Distinguished Unit Citations.

Nevertheless, the 3d Squadron was most successful, as the following performance record, covering 25 June through 30 November 1950, indicates:

Operation Total

A few examples, however, will serve better than statistics to illustrate the success of the 3d Squadron.

Seven days after arriving in Japan, an SA-16 on orbit picked up a Navy pilot who had been in the water off Korea less than two hours.

On 15 August an SA-16 picked up an F-51 pilot only 5 minutes after he had parachuted into the water.

A helicopter picked up another F-51 pilot behind North Korean lines on 5 September, and on 11 October another H-5 crew made a 125-mile round trip to snatch up a severely wounded British carrier pilot from under hostile fire and return him to Kimp'o.


Combat Components

Flight A (Johnson AB, Japan): -November 14, 1952.
Flight B (Yokota/Misawa/Yokota/Komaki, Japan): -November 14, 1952. Flight C (Misawa AB, Japan): -November 14, 1952.
Flight D (Ashiya AB, Japan): -November 14, 1952.
Det F/Det 1 (Sŏul/Taegu/Yongdong-po/Sŏul, South Korea): c. September 24, 1950-March 1, 1953.

36th Air Rescue Squadron: November 14, 1952-.
37th Air Rescue Squadron: November 14, 1952-.
38th Air Rescue Squadron: November 14, 1952-.
39th Air Rescue Squadron: November 14, 1952-.
2157th Air Rescue Squadron: March 1, 1953-.


Johnson AB, Japan, duration.

Lt. Col. David J. Nolan, -July 25, 1950;

Maj. Harvey E. Beedy, July 25, 1950;

Maj. Theodore P. Tatum, August 16, 1950;

Col. Klair E. Back, August 28, 1950;

Lt. Col. Robert B. Keck, June 3, 1953;

Col. Tracy J. Peterson, July 15, 1953-.

Campaign Streamers

UN Defensive; UN Offensive; CCF Intervention; First UN Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea, Summer-Fall 1952; Third Korean Winter; Korea, Summer 1953.


Three Distinguished Unit Citations for actions June 25-December 25, 1950; April 22-July 8, 1951; and
May 1-July 27, 1953.

Two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations for the periods June 25, 1950-June 30, 1951 and July
1, 1951-March 31, 1953.


3 SQ              
  SSG ROBERT WINSLOW B 29 MIG 15 12-04-51 1
  SGT LYLE PATTERSON B 29 MIG 15 12-04-51 1
SGT ROYAL VEATCH B 29 MIG 15 12-04-51 1
SGT GUS OPFER B 29 MIG 15 09-07-51 2
Unit Total:              6

On Mon, 6 Jan 1997
JBurousas@aol.com wrote:

The Third Air Rescue Squadron covered the Korean War including all of
Japan and surrounding waters. I was there from the start, 1950, to June

During this period of time we rescued over 5000 persons, monstly air
crewman. We used SA-16 amphibious aircraft capable of operating in the
sea or on land.

We also had a flight of helicopters which evacuated patients and also
rescued personnel. The squadron was part of MATS and the forward
element was under the control of the 5th AF. 

On one notable mission an SA-16 landed in the river near the capitol of
North Korea, at night, and rescued an F-51 pilot. I was not abord the
aircraft that landed in the river but was in the backup aircraft
waiting to land if the first one failed. On another mission we
attempted to pick up an F-51 pilot at an abandoned air strip in North
Korea  and crashed on the runway. I sent an SOS and was rescued the
next morning by on of our C-47's.

3rd Air Rescue Squadron

Flight A (Johnson AB, Japan): -November 14, 1952.
Flight B (Yokota/Misawa/Yokota/Komaki, Japan): -November 14, 1952.
Flight C (Misawa AB, Japan): -November 14, 1952.
Flight D (Ashiya AB, Japan): -November 14, 1952.

Opie Blanchard

On Thu, 22 May 97
Meribel Blanchard  meribelb@imsweb.net  wrote:

His full name was Lloyd Courtney Blanchard (nicknamed "Opie") During
the Korean War he was at Kadena AFB, Okinawa in the 3rd Air Rescue

He served a TDY in Korea.  I heard him often say that he was the 5th
helicopter pilot to fly in Korea.  Very early in that war.  He did fly
in to MASH units, and years later, met a doctor he had met there.

Thanks for providing the opportunity to contact our old friends. 

Any vets stationed on Okinawa remember the O-Club called "the fights?"

The mascot of the jump squad, a dog called "Ripcord?"  And a chopper
pilot named "Opie" Blanchard?  He also flew C-47s and seaplanes. The
jump tower for practice landing falls?  Recall the C.O.'s wife who
insisted all those painted ladies on the sides of planes be garbed?

As a dependent, when I drove to pick up "Opie" at the Rescue shack,
often had to dodge into the hardstands to get off the taxiways, if a
bomber was on the same road.  When they were planning to park in the
same hardstand, things got scary.

We survived beetles in the flour, eggs so old they were flavored and
movies on benches under the stars.

Would like to hear from anyone on Okinawa 50-52, especially the Air
Rescue gang.  A couple of us still relay news via Christmas cards.


Meribel Blanchard

Det 1

On Sat, 29 Aug 1998 
Norm Lucas Email addresswrote:

8141 Torin St
Long Beach, CA 90808-3342

Was with Det 1, 3rd Air Rescue Squadron (later became 2157 Air Rescue
Squadron, 3rd Air Rescue Group) from 12/52 - 11/53

Air Rescue Website

On Tue, 25 Aug 1998 
"Anthony C. Santore" Email addresst wrote:

I have put up a website which tells the story of the Air Rescue 
Service in Korea and Japan from 1950 to 1957.  Although it is not 
complete, it contains a lot of information about a number of 
organizations, including the 3rd Air Rescue Group, and the following 
Air Rescue Squadrons:  1st Det, 3rd ARS;  2157th, 33rd, 36th, 37th, 
38th, 39th, and 60th, as well as the 121st Evac Hospital.  I have 
virtually nothing about the 121st and am still looking.

I have recently found and ordered about 6 microfilms about the Air 
Rescue Service.  Given the slowness of government document-providers, 
I don't know when I'll have them.

Air Rescue Website


On Wed, 17 Dec 1997 
Updated: 11 Nov 1999
Arthur Robbins Email address wrote:

2722 Preston Dr.
mt. view, ca 94040

member of 3rd air rescue sq. from 10-49 to 3-52. radio operator on
SA16. Yokota afb, johnson afb and ashiya afb. Also k-2, k-9 and k-16.


On Tue, 18 Nov 1997 
Donald Linker wrote:

29 Country Lane
Wright City, MO 63390

Telephone:	(314)456-2656

I was stationed at Johnson Air Force Base in Japan in headquarters 
third air rescue group from 1951-1953.  

Fred S. Kirby

On Sun, 3 May 1998 
Kris & Rob Kirby Email address wrote:

At one point you said you had a contact in the 3rd Air Sea Rescue. On
12 Apr 51, my uncle, Fred S. Kirby, went down in a B-29 at 38:45 N
124:50 E (or 124:32 E). My Uncle was in 93rd Squadron of 19th Bomb Group

3rd Air Sea Rescue reported 2 large rafts, 1 small raft, and debris but
no survivors in rafts. I was hoping you could put me in touch with
someone connected to 3rd ASR.

Have been in contact with the Air Force Personnel Center.  No news, and
doubt if there ever will be.  Was hoping that would be able to give DNA
sample, but they seem to only want brothers/sisters/sister's children. 

Take care,

See also: 93rd Bomb Squadron


Updated: 3/08/99 by editor
MIA	3RD AIR RES SQ (DET 1)	6/25/52		H-5

On Mon, 6 Jul 1998 
Jim/Judy Email address wrote:

Dear Sir:
My cousen LESLIE WAYNE LEAR was reported M.I.A on 6-25-52. I was
2 years old and as I grew up I saw the pain that his mother, Aunt Pearl
suffered at each family diner or picnic I always wondered why she was so
sad. Her sister, my grandmother, always told us not to ask. I remember
that one memorial day my Grandmother sewed a gold star pillow cover for

Please let our family know if there is any info about Les. Maybe his mom
can rest in peace.

Update: 11/04/98, Thanks to your POW/MIA we have not only found the 
fact's around Leslies death, but we have also been put in contact with 
Aunt Pearl's Great Grand Daughter, and his sister! Thank You so much. 

For your records Leslie Wayne Lear was piloting a helicopter air 
lifting a wounded serviceman when his copter crashed in the D M Z or 
near it, we had the year of death wrong it was 1954. The patient & the
corpman survived the crash. Again God Bless You & the work your doing.

Thanks Jim Hollenbeck jijuholl@cyberhighway.net

26 June 1950


The Fifth Air Force training Field Order testing the aerial defenses of Okinawa was still in progress with a Flight "D", SB-17 accomplishing a reconnaissance to Okinawa and return.

It is apparent, at this time, that Flight "D" will need assistance in all categories of materials and personnel. At the present time all emphasis is being placed on evacuation of American Nationals, utilizing Kimp'o Airfield at Sŏul and Suwŏn Air Field (37 15' N 127 00' E).

One (1) of our C-47's has been pressed into duty for that purpose. SB-17s are orbiting round the clock to provide rescue coverage for evacuation ships and fighter aircraft that are furnishing top cover. These SB-17s are orbiting at Cheju-Do (33 28' N 126 30' E).