1st Air Commando Force
At the Quebec conference in August 1943, President Roosevelt agreed to Prime Minister Churchill's request for U.S. air support of the British "Chindits" commanded by General Orde Wingate.
General H.H. Arnold seized on the opportunity to use the flexibility of air power to fully support ground combat operations. Recruiting of a 528 man all-volunteer force began in September 1943, and by December 1943, men and equipment were in place in India and early operations began.
On March 5, 1944, "Operation Thursday" was launched. British "Chindits" were glider-borne at night to a field 150 miles behind Japanese lines in Burma. A dirt airstrip was carved out the next day, and within a week 12,000 additional troops. 1,300 mules and tons of equipment and supplies were airlifted into "Broadway."
L-1 and L-5 light planes, gliders and a
YR-4 helicopter evacuated the sick and wounded. C-47's and UC-64's made re-supply flights. P-51's and B-25's furnished air cover, close air support and interdiction of targets.
After May 1944, the redesignated groups' efforts were then directed to the support of the British 14th Army in its victorious drive to Rangoon. Additional personnel were assigned to the group. P-47's replaced the P-51's and operations continued with the same esprit de corps.
The far sighted strategy of General Arnold, the imaginative leadership of Colonels Philip Cochran and John Alison together with the bravery of the 1st Air Commandos played a significant role in the defeat of the Japanese in
Today Special Operations Air Commandos continue this tradition of dedicated service in missions around the world.
1st Air Commando Group
The name Air Commando was chosen by Gen. H. H. Arnold as
a tribute to Admiral Louis Mountbatten who formed and trained the first
British Commandos. Mountbatten was Supreme Allied Commander for Southeast Asia.
Air Commando Motto
During night training a glider crashed killing
British Chindits. There was great concern this
would lower morale of the Wingate Troops
assigned to the glider operations. A written
message was received from the British
"Please be assured that we will go with your boys, any place, any time, any where."
This phrase was adopted as a motto for the 1st Air Commando Group. It is still used in an abbreviated form by Special Operations Command of the U.S. Air Force.
The Chindits were highly trained jungle fighters who were organized as a reinforced division. Their mission was to infiltrate behind the Japanese and disrupt communication and supply lines. Chindits was a variation of "Chinthe." The
mythical figure that guards Burmese temples. It was the high casualty rates of the Chindits that precipitated the request for help from the United States in evacuation of wounded.
1st Air Commando Group
[List of deceased Air Commandos] See photo # 3.