381st Air Resupply and Communications Wing
AIR RESUPPLY AND COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE (ARCS)
A subcommand of Military Air Transport Service (MATS), it was activated on 23 February 1951. The Idea was to combine several overt and covert intelligence and propaganda missions into a single organization. In April 1951, a somewhat vague mission statement was issued: "provide worldwide air resupply and communications service to all Air Force and other U.S. military activities requesting such service."
In 1951 the 581st ARCW, located at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho was ordered to re-locate to Clark AF, Philippine by July 1952. The wings B-29's rotated and was co-located with the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Yakoto AB, Japan. The 581st SA-16 Albatross’s and H-19A's were used to conduct agent operations. In October 1952, a small detachment, of four new H-19A's (51-3883, 51-3884, 51-3885, 51-3886), was sent to Korea to operate under the Fifth United States Air Force for the insertion and retrieval of agents. The four H-19A's were attached to the 2157th Air Rescue Squadron (ARS), at K-16, for maintenance and housing support. Attaching the four H-19A's to the 2157th ARS gave the 581st ARCW cover for their secret activities. The 581st's H-19A's had the secondary mission of air crew recovery.
The first ARCW helicopter pilots had a few adjustments to make, beginning with the fact that when they arrived, on 5 October 1952, in Korea with no helicopters and no idea of the ARCW mission. When the newly arrived pilots contacted Fifth Air Force staff officers about their helicopters and a mission, the initial response was denial that the 581st even existed! It did, of course, and by October 1952 , six pilots, one NCO, 12 airmen fresh from tech school and four factory fresh H-19A's comprised the Helicopter Flight, commanded by Capt. Frank Westerman. Also know to be with the unit was Capt. Joe E. Barrett, Capt. Frank M. Fabijan, 2nd Lt. Robert F. Sullivan, Lawrence (Joe) A. Barrett, Rut Garnett, Don Crabb, Sergeant Jackabowski and A3C Ray Logan, plus others.
For the 3rd Air Rescue Group (ARGp.) the presence of the 581st ARCW helicopters took some adjustments as well. The 3rd ARGp commander objected to the night missions planned for the 581st H-19A's. He expressed his objection to Lt. Col. George Pittman, the 581st ARS commander that "helicopter flying at night was too dangerous". Col. Pittman bluntly reminded him that the 3rd ARGp. was responsible for providing maintenance and living arrangements for the 581st crews. As for the rest of their activities, "It's none of your business, don't worry about what we're doing". The 3rd ARGp. commander ordered the "rescue" markings removed from the 581st's H-19A's. Eventually, the 581st's H-19A's would be, like the 581st's SA-16's, painted black overall.
The 581st Helicopter Flight logged nearly a thousand hours in Korea. This included both the agent mission and air rescue flights to pick up downed pilots, all without a single accident, combat loss, or fatality. They had survived low-level night flying, North Korean ground fire, air-to-air interception, and ambush attempts on the ground.
Lineage. Established as 581st Air Resupply and Communications Wing on 9 Jul 1951. Activated on 23 Jul 1951. Inactivated on 8 Sep 1953.
Assignments. Air Resupply and Communications Service, 23 Jul 1951; Thirteenth Air Force, 18 Jul 1952 08Sep 1953.
Components. Group, 581st 23 Jul 1951 - 8 Sep 1953 (not operational, 17 Apr 1952 - 8 Sep 1953). Squadron, 581st: attached 17 Apr 1952 - 8 Sep 1953.
Stations. Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, 23 Jul 1951 - 26 Jun 1952; Clark AB, Philippines, 18 Jul 1952 - 8 Sep 1953.
Commanders. LtCol Rupert E. Herr, 23 Jul 1951; Col John K. Arnold, Jr., 1 Aug 1951; Maj John F. Zinn, 10 Aug 1951; LtCol George H. Pittman, Jr., 31 Aug 1951; Col John K. Arnold, Jr., 1 Oct 1951; Col Lawrence C. Gilbert, 16 Jan 1952; Col John K. Arnold, Jr., c. 18 Feb 1952; Col Lawrence C. Gilbert, 12 Jan-8 Sep 1953.
Aircraft. C-119, 1951-1953; B-29 1951-1953; SA-16, 1951-1953; H-19, 1952-1953; C-54; C-118, 1952-1953.
Operations. Performed psychological warfare and unconventional operations. Conducted limited operations in French Indo-China in 1953.
Service Streamers. None.
Campaign Streamers. None.
Emblem. On a shield azure, a torch, base argent, flame or flame moving toward the dexter over the flame a quill argent bend sinister all between three links of a chain sable, the center link coupled, with one and one-half links on each side of the torch; on a chief gules two branches of olive, surmounted by a sword in fess, hilt and pommel to the dexter, all or. Motto: Libertas Per Veritatem—Freedom through Truth. (Approved on 12 Jun 1952.)
Ref: "Apollo's Warriors" by: Col. Michael E. Haas, "Twilight Warriors" by: Curtis Peebles & January 1995 issue of the "ARC Light"