Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Korean War (1950 - 1953)

Just a year after the SAAF's notable contribution towards beating the blockade of West Berlin, its services were once again called upon to assist the Western and UN powers. This time the scene of operations was Asia, where North Korean forces had invaded the Republic of South Korea in 25 June 1950.

The United Nations had acceded to the request of the United States, to intervene militarily on the side of South Korea and the Union Government thus provided the services of the SAAF's 2 Sqn to the UN forces. The offer was gratefully accepted, and on 26 September 49 officers and 157 other ranks of 2 Sqn, all volunteers, left for Johnson Base in Tokyo, prior to their deployment in Korea. The first flight of four F-51D Mustangs departed for Korea on 16 November and the first operational sortie was flown three days later.

By the time the armistice was signed, 2 Sqn would rack up a long and distinguished record of service in Korea - flying F-51D Mustangs and later F-86F Sabres. Their role was mainly flying ground attack and interdiction missions as one of the squadrons making up the USAF's 18th Fighter Bomber Wing.

Flying a total of 12,067 sorties, losing 34 pilots and two other ranks,the South Africans also lost 74 of their 97 Mustang aircraft and four of yheir 22 Sabres; however, the men of the squadron received 797 medals - which included 2 Silver Stars (the highest award which can be earned by non-American nationals) 55 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 40 Bronze stars. Eight of their members were taken prisoners-of-war.

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