Udorn was Asian Headquarters for Air America
Air America provided essential resources for the
Secret War in Laos and
elsewhere. The public and covert activities of Air America and 'associates' contributed greatly to challenging and reversing the Domino effects of agressive global Communism by lessening national security threats of the Cold War, that otherwise were esculating into World War Three.
Air America's roles supportive of covert and overt situations related to hostilities in Asia and elsewhere worldwide provided buffers and solutions to problems too sensative for our political leaders in Washington to openly tend to, ...problems and situations that otherwise could have resulted with gravely higher losses of lives and assured detrimental effects upon our uniformed comrads-in-arms, and subsciquently adversly our present society, freedoms and way of life in America. CAT and Air America's 'quiet', often routinely heroic expressions, in later years more openly assisted our nations military, and other contributing eliments, who forever changed the course of world history in our nations favor, ..... while doing so with secrets kept for over 30 years by those who served our nation with such profound accomplishments, yet never to be read about in our nations school History books, .... and to the extent of such secrecy that the details of their roles remain still unknown to our countrymen, even unknown to our very own military, and not even our highest elected officials of the same era who were not privileged to such completeness of sensative details.
During the 1970's, details about the 'secret wars' was leaked, by a News Reporter, to elected officials in Washington. Then Air America became the 'accessable' sacrifical 'scape goat' for various UNaccessable cliant organizations / agencies.
Before the birth of Air America
In 1937 the Japanese began bombing Chinese cities and infrastructure targets, to include the American Navy
U.S.S. Panay, a gunboat the Japanese had also destroyed during a bombing raid.
The hostilities continued, and via an agreement with Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek, American 'volunteers' responded as Pilots to fly old Chinese aircraft to wage a Secret Air War against the Japanese.
Then in 1938 a retired U.S. Army Air Corps Captain, Claire Lee Chennault, was sent to Kunming, China as the American Air Advisir. Soon afterwards he was to hire American technicians to train Chinese Ground Crew Airmen and to train better Chinese Pilots.
During 1939 Washington did NOT want to appear they were supporting China in the war with Japan, so American military supplies could not be shipped directly to China. Instead, limited amounts of much needed military supplies continued to reach China from the Brittish in Burma and from the French in Viet-Nam, as well as from American military supplies sent to the French. But better Pilots and Planes were urgently needed for China.
In 1940 Chennault was instrumental in securing 100 American made Curtus P-40C Fighter aircraft, that had been earmarked for the Brittish, hence laundering their origin as non-American aid.
100 More Pilots and 200 more Ground Crewmen were needed.
The operation had to keep a safe 'identification distance' from our military, as to not create a response from the international community, so an organization named "Intercontinent" fronted the recruitment end of things for "Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company" (CAMCO) who became the actual employer contracting stateside recruited Pilots and Ground Crews for jobs in China, where Chennault headed the "American Volunteer Group" (AVG) Squadrons and men who would become known as the "Flying Tiger's"
Although American Pilots were recruited (some from the military, who retired to get the high paying jobs) they arrived as "volunteers" in China and NOT in any capisity attached to the U.S. military in any 'official' American support in China's war with Japan.
In 1941 U.S. President Roosevelt approved China to immeadiatly recieve shipments of five hundred American made aircraft, to include Bombers capable of reaching Japan with bombing missions launched from China, and many were in route.
Also the Brittish were shipping two squadrons of Fighter aircraft to Chennault's "American Volunteer Group" (AVG).
7 December 1941 many of those aircraft were in route or arrived, after being refueled in Hawaii...... when the Japanese ships and aircraft attacked U.S. military bases Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, and those bases and towns of the Asian based French, Dutch East Indies and Brittish who had been providing military aid to the Chinese, and those who survived capture were made prisoners.
resulted from a Time Magazine article written in late December 1941, describing Chennault's agressive combat AVG Pilots behaving like "Flying Tigers" during aireal combat with the Japanese, while collecting $500 (the equivalent of around $10,000 in today's dollars) for every Jap bird shot down.
In March 1942 the Japanese had occupied Burma, sealing off the essential resupply route of the Burma Road, which provided the cargo link between Brittish India and Burma ocean ports and connecting road into western China via Tibet.
So a way was urgently needed to bring munitions and supplies into China.
Washington decided to terminate the AVG on July 4th 1942, and form a new organization called "The China Air Task Force" under the 10th U.S. Air Force in India. The AVG's P40's would have thier Chinese markings removed and the U.S. Army Air Corps installed.
Some 'Flying Tigers' went with Chennault into the Army Air Corps, the rest went home or stayed in Asia to become transport Pilots.
From the Roster of the AVG, there were 21 AVG Pilots KIA or MIA during the AVG's
heroic combat career, which the U.S. Air Force recognizes being from 7 Dec 1941 to 14 July 1942.
On 22 April 1944 the
Second Air Commando Group was activated.
In 1945 Gen. Chennault commanded the 14th Air Force.
In 1946 CAT was originally formed by Whiting Willauer and Lt. Gen. Claire L. Chennault operated an air cargo company in China that expanded into Laos, Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia, under the name of
Civil Air Transport" (CAT).
CAT's cargo business income was supplemented with covert missions for the CIA that dated back to Oct. 10, 1949,
(National Day in China).
Brief origin notes about Air America
In 1950, after
China fell to the Communists in 1949, C.A.T. operated briefly following the war then had to leave in January 1950, suffering great capital losses.
Chiang Kai Sek fled to Taiwan (Formosa), where CAT relocated, but CAT's commercial and CIA business had dried up and CAT faced imminent bankruptcy.
In March 1950, the CIA (formerly OSS)
secretly purchased "
Civil Air Transport" (CAT).
In July 1950, the CIA assigned 3 CAT planes to ferry native spies between Japan and Korea
to establish agent networks placed inside North Korea intended initially to aid in the rescue of downed Aircrews, but shortly afterwards was transformed into guerrilla operations, and later to stimulate cooperation by North Korean civilians, code named "White Tigers".
1951 - 1953 : During the Korean War C.A.T. made hazardous overflights of mainland China, airdropping covert Agents and supplies.
CAT aircraft occationally used the facilities at Udorn RTAFB. CAT provided many services to our nation and allied nations, by operating as an actual commercial airline and air cargo carrier following World War Two and the Korean War, as well as air delivery of covert mission troops.
In 1953 CAT was active in the French war against Communist insurgents in Indochina, where CAT planes and Pilots flew
airlifts in US Air Force-supplied C-119s and C-47's bearing the tricolored roundels of the French Air Force, flying troops, tanks, food, medicines, heavy equipment and other cargo to hard-pressed French forces in Vietnam and Laos.
In 1954, French paratroopers occupied Dien Bien Phu in northwestern Vietnam, 10 miles from the Laos border,
where the French Air Transport Command in Indochina lacked sufficient aircrews to meet the Army's demands so CAT provided 24 pilots, and between 13 March and the fall of Dien Bien Phu on 7 May, CAT pilots flew 682 airdrop missions to the French troops.
Between mid-May and mid-August CAT dropped supplies to isolated French outposts and throughout Laos and Vietnam.
Following the signing of the Geneva Agreement (21 July 1954) CAT flew 19,808 men, women, and children out of North Vietnam between 22 August and 4 October 1954.
In 1955 a rice failure in Laos threatened famine in several provinces, where CAT flew from Udorn RAFB, Thailand, air dropping 1,000 tons of emergency food and essential supplies of rice and salt into rural Laos villages.
From 1955 to 1959 CAT maintained a very active cargo carrier role in Laos during that era of time.
In 1959 CAT was renamed "Air America."
In the mid-1960's, although CAT changed its name to Air America, CAT still had aircraft flying with the old CAT identification.
During the mid-1960's CAT and Air America identity aircraft also served as a conduit for Udorn based covert US intelligence operations supporting the 'Secret War' operations in Laos, and other operations that included the USAF
Air Commando's, who were deployed as close as the Plain of Jars and as far away as 'around the globe' responding to threats of Communism.
NOTE : Flying Tiger Video
NOTE : Flying Tiger Roster [ 1 ] ,
[ 2 ]
NOTE : Flying Tigers Photo Album : [ 1 ] , [ 2 ] , [ 3 ] , [ 4 ] , [ 5 ]
CIA Air Operations in Laos, 1955-1974
NOTE : My educational site : LAOS : The Secret War
NOTE : My
History of Southeast Asia
NOTE : My War : My Secret