By Senior Airman Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 61st, 62nd, and 50th Airlift Squadrons and the Center for Naval Aviation Technician Training Marine Detachment here remembered the Battle of Chosin Reservoir with a number of activities Dec. 7, celebrating the life-saving contributions of Combat Airlift.
The Combat Airlifters marked the day with a wreath laying ceremony, a remembrance social and a remembrance flight and airdrop. Aircraft from the three squadrons performed air drops with pallets symbolizing the bridge sections that were dropped during the Korean War battle.
In November 1950, the 1st Marine Division along with Army units were positioned at Chosin Reservoir plateau, North Korea, and the Chinese Army forces destroyed the only feasible path; a bridge leading in and out of the area. Enemy forces closed in on the confined Marines and Soldiers.
The 61st and 62nd Troop Carrier Squadrons were tasked to deliver eight bridge sections to the trapped troops. The 2,200-pound bridge sections had never been dropped by parachute before. The first attempt failed with the chute failing to open and the bridge section smashing into the earth. After some modifications to the parachute rigs, the C-119s were sent to deliver the bridge sections. Only four sections were needed, but six out of the eight sections made it to the target. In hours the bridge was serviceable and the troops made their way out of the area.
The mission marked an important day in Green Hornet and Blue Baron history; one that is still being written today.
“Our history is the thing that connects us all together,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Seth Ehrlich, a 61st AS assistant flight commander. “Combat Airlift has a lineage that goes back into the very first air drops during World War II and even prior to that. Chosin is not just for the Marines, it is for us as well, which is why we are taking the day to remember.”
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Westby, 61st AS commander, hoped the day’s events raised awareness of the legacy of the Green Hornets and Blue Barons, and the enduring importance of Combat Airlift.
“I wanted to host an event where we could raise esprit de corps and pride in the units,” Westby said. “We need to remember who we represent, it’s not just ourselves; it’s those that have come before us. It is a huge honor to be a part of this squadron but it is also a huge responsibility to uphold our reputation.”