The Use of Helicopters for the Primary Purpose of Air Ambulances in World War II

The Use of Helicopters for the Primary Purpose of Air Ambulances in World War II

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Introduction
In this paper we will discuss the first documented use of helicopters for the primary purpose of Air Ambulances in World War II. During 1943, the United States, British Commonwealth and the Chinese faced the armies of Japan, Thailand and Indian National Army. The Burmese Independent Army started off on the Japanese side, but later switched sides fighting with the allied forces. Under the control of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States made a decision to support the Chinese during the war with aircraft.1 With Japan controlling much of the Chinese territory, the main supply route for the Chinese was thru the Burma Road. This supply route was essential to operations in the area shaped a restructure for the way supplies would be delivered to soldiers fighting and patients being able to get the urgent care they extremely needed. The only logical and expeditious way to do all of this would be through the use of aircraft flying a supply route known as “the Hump.”2

History
Commanders from all units across the world have thought about how to take care of their troops in times of war. Maybe one of the most heavily weighed thoughts is how much risk I am willing to take if I can’t provide my men immediate medical care at the time when they most need it.
Dated back as far as 1866, the idea of an “Air Ambulance” has been on the minds of certain individuals across the world. Paris, France first used the hot air balloons in order to evacuate more than 160 soldiers from the besieged city to medical care facilities.3 In the beginning, using a hot air balloon to rescue shipwrecked sailors seemed logical since the balloons where already delivering mail and supplies across the area of operations. This action dire...


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...pter Evacuation, http://olive-drab.com/od_medical_evac_helio_ww2.php

Ed Holmes, MEDEVAC Flight in WWII, http://www.helis.com/stories/burma45.php

History of Air Ambulance and MEDEVAC, Mercy Flight, http://www.mercyflight.org/content/pages/medevac

Map Of Burma, BBC, Animated Map: The Burma Campaign, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/animations/wwtwo_map_burma/index_embed.shtml

Mark W. Bielauskas, Imphal, The Hump and Beyond, http://www.comcar.org/Air%20Commando%20Group/1st_air_commando_group_beginings.htm

Peter Dorland and James Nanney, DUST OFF: Army Aeromedical Evacuation in Vietnam, CMH Publisher, 90-28-1, page 9

U.S. Army Medical Department, Call Sign – DUSTOFF “Chapter 1” http://www.bordeninstitute.army.mil/other_pub/dustoff/Dustoffch1.pdf

World War 2 Burma, History Channel, http://www.history.co.uk/explore-history/ww2/burma.html


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