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Pope history for May

  • Published
  • By Keith Alexander
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Historian
World War II
Throughout the Pacific, Brig. Gen. George Kenney's Fifth Air Force continued their attack upon Japanese bases and ships in May 1942. 

For instance, the 43rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) participated in a raid on Lae. One of three major Japanese bases in Papua New Guinea, Lae was located on the Huon Gulf.
Therefore, General Kenney's forces pounded it from the air May 26, 27 and 28, 1942. 

A year later at Selfridge Field, Michigan, the 43rd Station Complement Squadron was activated and assigned to the Third Air Force May 20, 1943. 

For their World War II service, this unit earned the World War II European-African-Middle Eastern Theater service streamer. 

Today, the 43d Maintenance Operation Squadron displays this service streamer on their colors. 

During World War II, the Japanese held several important bases in Burma. 

Myitkyina, for example, was important for three reasons: it was a major river port; it was the northern terminal for the railroad; it was situated on the planned Ledo Road. 

Because of its military importance, the Japanese government stationed General Masaki Honda's 33rd division there. American and Chinese forces under General Joseph Stilwell planned to assault and capture Myitkyina. On May 17, 1944, the 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron, a predecessor of the 2nd Airlift Squadron, and other troop carrier squadrons delivered Merrill's Marauders and Chinese Nationalist troops to the area. This initial assault commenced a five-month fight that ended with the Allies capturing this major hub. 

Vietnam Era
The U.S. Air Force activated the 3rd Aerial Port Squadron on May 5, 1964, and assigned it to the Tactical Air Command at Pope. 

Humanitarian Relief Efforts
A series of earthquakes struck the Republic of Chile leaving nearly 248,000 people homeless in late May 1960. 

As part of Operation Amigos Airlift, U.S. Air Force aircraft carried supplies from bases such as Pope to Santiago and Puerto Mont, Chile. 

In May 1973, an extreme drought caused a famine and mass starvation in Mali, Chad, and Mauritania. The United States commenced Operation Authentic Assistance on May 15, 1973. 

One of the units flying supplies to the area was the 317th Tactical Airlift Wing, which was stationed at Pope. 

Recent History
In May 2000, the 43rd Airlift Wing hosted Rodeo 2000 at Pope. Gen. Charles Robertson pronounced it as the best Rodeo event during his distinguished career. 

At this Rodeo, the 43rd AW won the following honors: the Best C-130/C-160 Wing and the World's Best Airdrop Wing.