Below is a typed copy of a newspaper
article. My copy is too smudged to be reproduced here. As soon as
Lorinda finds her copy, we will consider replacing this article with a scanned
copy of the original which also includes a picture of the rescuers if it is
KWANG JU RESCUE SAVES 18 LIVES
Kwang Ju AB—Seven Korean soldiers and 11 civilians won’t soon forget the air
rescue personnel at this base. Their lives will be a constant reminder to them
of the day they stared death in the face and were plucked from its grasp by four
The Americans, Maj. William F Cunningham, Jr., Maj. Wayne I. Ritter, TSgt. Larry
K.Henderson and SSgt. Kelsey R. Adams are assigned to Det. 10, 41
Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing
The day the men were
called into action was by no means an ideal one for rescue operations. Heavy
rain pelted the base and a shroud of fog forced closing of the air field. Such
a day is normally a paperwork day for a helicopter unit.
But at 8:36 AM, the
paperwork was shoved aside when the rescue unit received a call from Lt. Col.
Hesup S. John, safety officer for the Republic of Korea’s 1st Fighter
Col. John informed
the rescue alert crew that some Korean Army Corps of Engineers troops were
stranded on the top of a diesel shovel in the middle of the Hwang Yong River and
that the river was rising rapidly. The normally placid, sand-bar ridden river
had been swollen by more than three inches of rain and had turned into a raging
Despite the adverse
weather conditions the rescuemen were off in a matter of minutes with Col. John
along as guide and interpreter.
Minutes later, Maj. Cunningham, 33, of Columbus, Ohio, was hovering his HH-43B
Huskie helicopter over
the nearly-submerged piece of equipment. He positioned the helicopter, with the
assistance of his co-pilot, Maj. Ritter, 38, of Monteno, IL, about 18 feet above
Adams, 34, of Detroit, MI, a pararescue man, was lowered to the roof of the
diesel cab where he assisted the Korean soldiers in putting on a rescue hoist.
One by one they were raised and helped into the chopper by Sgt. Henderson, 38,
of Tampa, FL, the flight mechanic.
Four men were taken
to safety first and then the
other three along with Sgt. Adams.
After talking with the soldiers, Col. John learned that the men were taking fill
from the river when they suddenly discover a “wall of water” gushing toward
diesel was eventually completely covered. The depth of the river was estimated
to have arisen 10 feet.
Upon returning to the base, rescue personnel noticed that one of the helicopter
blades had been damaged. As is the practice, immediate repairs were made
in the event another rescue mission should be called. And it wasn’t
long before one was called.
1 PM Col. John called again. This time 11 Korean civilian workers were trapped
in a sandbar which was rapidly becoming smaller as raging waters deluged it.
The scene was only
two miles downstream from the morning’s accident. As the rescue men appeared
over the area it appeared to them that the civilians were attempting to
construct a makeshift raft and fighting the erosion of their tiny island with
shovels, throwing dirt into
rapidly disappearing edges of the
helicopter was positioned about one foot above the area with the right wheels
over the island, the left ones over the water. This allowed an open area
on the sandbar for rescue operations. Again, Sgt. Adams and Henderson
guided Koreans into the chopper, using a hoist as a step. Two trips were
required to ferry the men to safety.
Referring to the rescue mission, Col. John said that all 18 men could very well
have been lost in the swift waters had not help arrived in time.
This is one of many
rescues that Kelsey was involved in.
Copyright Delores Adams 2/3/04
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