Casualties throughout the Korean War in the Marine division had been extracted
by helicopter as well as land transport, and in the rugged mountains north of the
Punchbowl, helicopters were a godsend. However, these "whirlybirds" could only lift two
wounded men at a time, usually in external litters. There was delay because of the
heavy numbers of wounded waiting to be taken to field hospitals or battalion or
regimental aid stations in the rear (but the choppers made up for the delay and then
subtracted from it by moving tons of supplies forward as well). The "chopper" helped
save many wounded Marines who otherwise would have died. One estimate was that
as little as thirty minutes passed from a Marine's actual wounding to the time of his
arrival at a triage point over seventeen miles to the rear. (If he was one of the lucky
ones who got to be evacuated by chopper. Chopper evacuation was not always or even
usually the method utilized in combat.)45 (See Photo # 4)
Wadie Moore received both stretcher and helicopter evacuation:
"'Wrap him in a poncho,' Doc said. Then it was bumpity-bump-bump down
that hill with somebody dragging me in that poncho. Oh, it was cold! Surely this
ride will be over soon. Then we came to this stream and the communists were
throwing mortars into that thing until you'd think they were going to blast all the
water out of it."
After being dropped and abandoned by his Blue Boy porters, Moore heard
the sergeant directing the helicopter evacuation of wounded holler, "Get that man
floating downriver-get him !" Marines dragged him to the side of the water and
soon he was strapped in a basket whizzing through the air on the 90-mile trip
back to adequate hospital care for the seriously wounded.
"In those days the choppers were so frail they had to have a dummy for
ballast opposite the wounded. It wasn't necessary in this case as my old friend
Ed DeFlice served that purpose. We shared the coldest ride of our lives."46
That same day, Operation Windmill I (named after the code name for 3/1), the first
battlefield helicopter resupply operation in any war, commenced when helicopters
45 Lynn Montross, et al., The East-Central Front, 187, 190; 1st Mar Div, "Historical Diary," September
46 Mackey Murdock, The Forgotten War: Texas Veterans Remember Korea, 106.
Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/. Accessed September 1, 2014.