Helicopter Evacuation in the Korean War
The small number of evacuations and rescues during World War II were enough to make it clear that the helicopter was the future of battlefield MedEvac. The Korean War brought that promise to an operational reality.
In Korea, the use of helicopters as ambulances was especially important due to the physical landscape. The rugged terrain and difficult roads made a tactical ride in a ambulance truck to reach an aid station far too rough and lengthly to meet the needs of the wounded soldiers. Casualties often went into shock from the rigors of truck transport and essential time was lost before treatment. Medical officers noted that “A man dies in a period of time, not over a distance of miles” to summarize the problem.
Medics gently carry a wounded American soldier towards a Bell H-13 helicopter for evacuation to emergency treatment, 23 July 1953. An M-43 Dodge Ambulance is in the background.
At the outset of the Korean War, the U.S. military was still equipped only with a small number of World War II helicopters. There was no doctrine to prescribe their use. But, as always in wartime, practical necessities drove the agenda, problems were solved, and helicopters quickly became the primary medical evacuation aircraft for the movement of casualties Continue reading