Air America's origin dates back to the secret CIA purchase of Civil Air Transport (CAT) assets in August 1950. Air America/CAT operations were initiated in response to covert transportation requirements during the Chinese Civil War and Korean Conflict. Air America operations continued throughout the Vietnam War, ceasing in 1976.
In the 1960's and 70's, when communist troops from North Vietnam spread into Laos, Air America transported tens of thousands of troops and refugees, flew emergency medevac missions, search-and-rescue missions, covert insertion/extraction of personnel, nighttime airdrops, conducted photo reconnaissance, and numerous clandestine nighttime missions. Air America's/CAT 300 plus pilots, copilots, flight mechanics, and airfreight specialists recruited from all U.S. military services and commercial airlines were true professionals and performed superbly for the CIA.
In all 100 Air America personnel lost their lives in South East Asia. Without Air America's presence, the CIA's effort could not have been sustained, and the U.S. might have been forced to introduce military troops into Laos. Air America's dedication to the "secret war" fought in Laos is not forgotten.