The 3rd Air Rescue Group


The 3rd Air Rescue Group's mission was to supply rescue coverage for the Far East Command area of responsibility and to send its aircraft and crews wherever needed to save lives. It was responsible for finding aircrews who crashed or became lost, aiding them and returning them to safety. Though we primarily existed to save lives of American airmen in distress, our facilities were, at all times, available to the other branches of the Department of Defense, to agencies of foreign governments, and for aid wherever lives may be saved or human suffering alleviated -- a mercy mission."


The 3rd Air Rescue Group was organized as the Third Emergency Rescue Squadron at Gulfport Army Air Field, Gulfport, Mississippi, in February 1944. After intensive training at Gulfport and Keesler Fields, the Third Emergency Rescue Squadron was directed to overseas shipment.

The 3rd Emergency Rescue Squadron was reassigned to the Air Rescue Service from the Fifth Air Force in May 1949.

On 10 August 1950, the Squadron was again reorganized as the Third Air Rescue Squadron which authorized additional equipment and personnel to assist the Squadron in providing adequate rescue coverage and support of the armed forces engaged in the Korean War.


When the Korean Conflict came, the Third blossomed overnight from a small peacetime squadron into the largest, most versatile rescue unit in the world. Rescue crews and aircraft swarmed to Korea to join the Third from all points of the globe, ready to create a new concept of Rescue technique as was required by the rugged terrain. The traditional role of rescue in war -- as a support for long range air operations -- had to be replaced by a tactical concept of rescue to meet the needs presented by the use of tactical airpower in Korea. The need for flexibility was satisfied by the helicopter which was capable of getting in and out of tight spots, inaccessible to conventional aircraft. Many a crew member downed behind enemy lines later claimed that the most beautiful sight in their lives was the approach of the Rescue helicopter.


                               Inchon 1950



                 Bad Day for ‘Old Dad’

scan0001b.jpg              H-19 Crew carrying Peace delegates to Kaesong – 1951

 Standing: 2nd from left – Charlie DuPont; on right end - Bill Peel.


For long range rescue missions, the SA-16 filled the bill. The seas were never too rough nor the odds too great for the SA-16 not to make a try at rescuing a man downed in the water. Generally, the mission of the "Dumbo" was flying orbits deep in enemy territory to support air operations. They got there early and stayed till the last fighter was home so as to be in a position to render immediate assistance if it should be needed.




During the Korean War, personnel of the 3rd saved 9,862 United Nations personnel, nearly 1,000 of whom were rescued from behind enemy lines. The Group received three United States Presidential Citations and two Presidential Citations from the Republic of Korea, as well as all ten Battle Stars awarded during that conflict.

Men of the 3rd were honored by receiving two Distinguished Service Crosses, 40 Silver Stars, 105 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 21 Bronze Stars, 69 Commendation Medals, 10 Service Medals, one Legion of Merit, and 1,210 Air Medals, making the 3rd the most decorated unit in the Korean War.

18 Jun 57: the 3rd ARG was deactivated.


On 8 January 1966 the Air Rescue Service became the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service (ARRS), and the 3rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group (ARRG) took charge of all rescue operations in the Vietnam geographical area.