Intermission Story (11) – 54th Troop Carrier Wing and the 11th Airborne Division

The 54th Troop Carrier Wing was established on 26 February 1943 [one day after the 11th A/B Div. at Camp MacKall] and commenced air transport and medical air evacuation operations in support of Fifth Air Force on 26 May 1943. advancing as battle lines permitted.

The unit took part in the airborne invasion of Nadzab, New Guinea in September 1943 by dropping the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, as well as Australian engineers and heavy equipment.

The wing employed C-47’s almost exclusively, but during late 1943 and much of 1944 also used 13 converted B-17E’s for armed transport missions in enemy-held territory. The 54th supported every major advance made by the allies in the Southwest Pacific Theater operating from primitive airstrips carved from jungles and air-dropping cargo where airstrips unavailable.

In July 1944, the wing dropped 1,418 paratroopers on Noemfoor Island to aid the allied invasion forces. Then assumed the task of handling all freight and personnel moving in troop carrier aircraft in the Southwest Pacific, in addition to scheduled and unscheduled air movement of cargo and troops, and air evacuation of wounded personnel.

In preparation for airborne operations in the Philippines, the 54th TCW conducted joint training with the 11th Airborne Division.  August and September 1944 were held in Nadzab.  Due to the demands of transport resources in building up Allied strength in Netherlands, New Guinea, the wing rotated the squadrons in Doboduru where they received refresher training in paradrops and aerial supply.  The training proved to be of great value at Tagatay Ridge, Corregidor and in the Cagayan Valley, Luzon, when the 11th A/B need a lift for their paratroopers and gliders.

Early December 1944, the 5th Air Force HQ was attacked as well as the 44th Station Hospital.  The 187th HQ Company [Smitty was there], set up a perimeter.  They stood there through the night, rifles ready.  By morning there were 19 dead enemy soldiers.  Col. Pearson sent out patrols that located another 17 Japanese hiding out in the rice paddies..

Okinawa

By late 1944 and during the early months of 1945, most wing missions were flown to the Philippines.  In February 1945, the wing flew three more airborne operations, all in the Philippines, to help encircle Japanese concentrations.   For the 11th A/B Division’s jump on Aparri in north Luzon, the first plane off the ground was piloted by Col. John Lackey. Wing C-47s dropped napalm on Caraboa Island in Manila Bay in March 1945.

11th-airborne-paradrop-june-45-luzon-8x10 (800x640)

11th Airborne Division paradrop, June 1945

When hostilities ended on Luzon, the wing moved the entire 11th Airborne Division (11,300 personnel) from the Philippines to Okinawa on short notice.  It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted the men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply.

Glider training

The 54th then began transporting occupation forces into Japan, beginning with General Swing, the 187th Regiment (and Smitty).  On the first day, 123 aircraft brought 4,200 troopers to Atsugi Airfield.  During September 1945, the wing also evacuated over 17,000 former prisoners of war from Japan to the Philippines.

The wing served as part of the occupation forces in Japan from 25 September 1945 to about 26 January 1946, while continuing routine air transport operations and a scheduled courier service. Beginning in December 1945 and continuing into mid-1946, most of the wing’s components were reassigned to other units or inactivated, and on 15 January 1946 the wing became a component of the Far East (soon, Pacific) Air Service Command.

Towing a glider.

Moving to the Philippines, the wing gained new components and flew scheduled routes between Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and the Hawaiian Islands.  Replaced by the 403rd Troop Carrier Group on 31 May 1946 and was inactivated.

Further, more detailed information can be found in the publications by the IHRA.

This article incorporates material from the US Air Force Historical Research Agency, “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division” & “Rakassans”, both by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Wikipedia and US Airborne Commando Operations.

  Click on images to enlarge.

#####################################################################################

Military Humor – 

#####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

John Bettridge – Denver, CO; US Army, WWII & Korea

Gerard Caporaso – Chatham, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, (author: “From the Top Turret: A Memoir of WW2 and the American Dream”)

Daniel Cooney – Plandome, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Prosper “Trapper” Couronne – Whitewood, CAN; RC Army, Korea, Warrant Officer (Ret. 24 yrs.), 1st PPCLI

Bruce Goff – Elmwood, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4214914, WWII

Fred Hartman Sr. – Horsehead, NY; US Army, WWII & Korea

Myron Hollman – Wausau, WI; US Navy, WWII/ US Army, Korea/ US Air Force, Vietnam

Theodore Matula – Lantana, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-47 pilot

Lloyd Urbine – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Winton – Bowie, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII

#####################################################################################

Advertisements

About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 31, 2017, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. So many comments I had to skip over them. Thanks for this is in order to you and IHRA. With all the reading I’ve done, little is to be found on those men in air transport. That operation seemed very well orchestrated in comparison to Montgomery’s debacle known as Market Garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you again for the history lessons in your posts, GP. I am continually amazed at what is not taught in the schools.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The logistics of the war effort just boggles my mind. I’m always so happy when I read Smitty was there, because it brings it back down to the individual military personnel that each day, and sometimes throughout the night, goes out there and does their job, whatever the cost.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic article Sir, great history lesson. I am going to reblog this article for you Sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting view on history

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks, as always, for the history lesson, G. Also enjoyed the rough neighborhood, cartoon. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  7. GP Cox, I would like to share your posts with our Movie group, so how will I be able to do that?? Thanking you in advance.
    We have chosen Dunkirk the movie) this month to see and discuss. I have enjoyed your posts so much, and I do think our group will enjoy them too.Sheila

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thank you, Sheila. If your group is on-line, simply copy and paste the address of the post you want [appearing at the very top of your computer screen]. You can highlight the particular post and print out a hard copy.
      Remember that Dunkirk transpired before the US was even in the war and that about 350,000 men were involved, not the few they show in the movie.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Do yourself a big favor, and read this book instead:

      Like

  8. The support guys rarely get the credit they deserve.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hard-working group. Dropping 1400 men–that’s amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for that history lesson. Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We have attended airshows at Westover AFB, a transport wing flying C5s – they are such an impressive group and we love watching that plane. We are about 30 miles south of the base, but, on a clear day, you can still see that plane overhead, beginning its descent.

    http://www.westover.afrc.af.mil/

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such Staggering numbers, something we often forget when thinking about the Pacific war.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Whenever you read history books, doesn’t matter if it’s the Roman Empire, the Civil War, WWII, etc. – at some point, you become aware of logistics and the staggering amount of Stuff that has to be maintained, transported, stored, distributed. (And I’m definitely a believer in “an army marches on its stomach”!!)
    I love the logo on their patch, and the jet up on blocks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad you mentioned the logistics, they are so important!! I’m happy you found the post interesting, it was fun putting a connection with my father, his unit and the 5th Air Force.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for this fascinating look into what went on beneath the headlines. So much of life is like that, it seems, all the anonymous, unsung heroes without whose faithful, untiring efforts, none of the flashy stuff would have gotten done.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I enjoy the history lesson each time but eagerly read the cartoons! Your sense of humor is exquisitely enjoyed as it is so niche! 👍😃thus making it both learning and a laughing good time. Thanks GP for this😊

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Transport air crews are often overlooked with most writing concentrating on the action. So many men flew in these planes, unarmed, and often undefended by fighters. Losses were heavy, and it is good to give them due credit.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Pete. I also learned it is sometimes pretty difficult to locate information on them too! But it was fun finding the connections between the 5th Air Force and Smitty.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Thank you for helping us to share these stories and have the men remembered.

    Like

  1. Pingback: The Weekly Headlines – My Daily Musing

  2. Pingback: 54th Troop Carrier Wing and the 11th Airborne Division | PROFILES IN COURAGE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: