46th Troop Carrier Squadron Plaque Dedication
Sept. 23, 2010
National Museum of the United States Air Force
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the plaque dedication ceremony in honor of the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron being held here today at the National Museum of the United States Air Force Memorial Park. I am Bill Lloyd, President of the 317th Veterans Group and your Narrator for this event.
At this time, please silence or turn off all cell phones, pagers, and wireless devices.
Please stand for the posting of the colors by the Wright Patterson AFB Honor Guard.
HONOR GUARD WILL POST COLORS. NATIONAL ANTHEM
Please be seated.
This dedication ceremony honors the Airmen of the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron who so proudly served during WWII, the Jungle Skippers. With this plaque the 46th now joins their fellow Jungle Skippers of the 39th, 40th and 41st squadrons of the 317th Troop Carrier Group in this Memorial Park.
We have several special guests I would like to recognize and thank them for being here today:
Major Gen Charles Metcalf, Director of the Museum
The veterans who served in the 317th during WWII and their family members
The Liberty Foundation Directors and C-47 support personnel
Our 317th Veterans Group Chaplain, Hank Winters, will give the invocation.
Thank you Hank.
The 46th’s distinguished history began when the squadron was activated on 15 Jun 1942 at Duncan Field, Texas, as the 46th Transport Squadron with assignment to the 317th Transport Group. Several months later it became the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron and the 317th became the 317th Troop Carrier Group with four squadrons, the 39th, 40th, 41st and the squadron we are honoring here today, the 46th.
After several relocations within the US, flying factory fresh new Douglas C-47 aircraft they arrived in Australia in Jan. of 1943. Unfortunately, their new C-47's were immediately reassigned to other squadrons who had been there longer and their older war weary aircraft were given to the squadrons of the 317th. They finally began to receive new aircraft once again that summer.
The 46th along with the other squadrons of the 317th got their baptism of fire shortly after their arrival in Australia. A vital airstrip at Wau, New Guinea was under attack by enemy forces and reinforcements were desperately needed. The Wau airstrip was a difficult airstrip to land on even without a battle going on. It ran uphill, rising a foot every twelve feet, Landings were made uphill, and takeoffs downhill without exception and regardless of wind direction, and to make matters worse, there was a crescent shaped mountain range near the end of the strip making a last minute go around impossible. Two hundred and forty-seven sorties were flown over a three day period, some of them under enemy ground fire and bomber attack.
In September of 43, 67 years ago this month, they flew the soldiers of the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment to Nadzab, New Guinea. This first combat paratroop drop of the Pacific war took the Japanese by complete surprise, and was a great success creating a major Allied airbase, allowing even further advances against the enemy forces. As the US and Australian forces moved on to Finchafen and on to Hollandia, New Guinea, they were transported and kept supplied with everything they needed; jeeps, artillery pieces, fuel and ammunition were all flown in by our C-47's. Food and Medical Supplies were flown in and sick and wounded flown out.
The 46th participated in the assault paratroop drops that freed Leyte and Corregidor from Japanese control. These missions were completed under heavy enemy fire.
After the Philippines were liberated, the 46th was deployed to Okinawa to prepare for the invasion of Japan. After the Japanese surrender they became part of the Fifth Air Force Army of Occupation.
Initial missions included the evacuation of former Allied prisoners of war. Later during the postwar era, they were transferred to Korea.
The WWII airmen of the South West Pacific theater of operations not only had to contend with enemy forces both on the ground and in the air; they had to fly over the high mountain ranges of New Guinea and navigate long distances over open seas. Both had unpredictable weather patterns that cost the loss of men and aircraft. Tropical diseases such as malaria and jungle rot also plagued these airmen, but despite it all; the Airmen of the 46th got the job done, supplying support for the soldier on the ground. Wherever and whenever it was needed from never forgotten airstrips such as Port Moresby, Finschafen, Nadzab, Dubodura, Hollandia, Clark Field, just to name a few.
The unit's honors include seven World War II campaign streamers: New Guinea; Northern Solomons; Bismarck Archipelago; Western Pacific; Leyte; Luzon; and Southern Philippines. It also earned three Distinguished Unit Citations, for Papua; New Guinea; and the Philippine Islands.
The 46th Troop Carrier Squadron was deactivated in 1949.
The Airmen of the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron served with honor and distinction. We are indeed proud to recognize them at today's ceremony.
Would the 46th veterans and family representatives of 46th veterans please come forward for the unveiling of the plaque.
UNVEIL THE PLAQUE
Thank you gentlemen.
General Metcalf, will you please join me.
I have the honor of formally presenting this plaque to the National Museum of the US Air Force. General Metcalf please accept this plaque on behalf of the veterans of the 46th TCS.
General Metcalf: Acceptance speech.
Thank you, Gen Metcalf.
Please rise and remain standing through the playing of taps and retirement of the colors.
TAPS ARE PLAYED.
Honor Guard, retire the colors.
Thank you for being here today on this proud occasion that marks another page in the history of the 46th Jungle Skippers and the 317th Troop Carrier Group. I know all of you share my belief that preserving the 317th Airlift Group heritage is not only a responsibility, it is our tremendous privilege. With this plaque we have made another contribution to that heritage. The 46th TCS Jungle Skippers will not be forgotten.
The C-47 was piloted by Don Brooks, Chairman of the Liberty Foundation and owner of the aircraft which he painted in the Jungle Skippers colors with the tail number of Buck Brinson, whose son is a member of our group and on the Board of Directors for the Liberty Foundation.
This brings us to the end of this dedication. Enjoy your visit to the Museum.