Saturday, March 5, 2011
Heroic Haven Helicopter Pilot During The Korean War Lt. Joseph L. Bowler
Type Helo Flown By Lt. Bowler H-13D
Haven Helicopter Pilot Saves 502 lives in Korea
September 4, 1951
Somewhere in Korea.
The U.S. Third Infantry Division claims a world record pilot Lt. Joseph L. Bowler, of Schuylkill Haven, Pa.
The Division says Lt. Bowler pilot of an H-13D, helicopter “Flying Ambulance” has saved 502 lives. He has oiled up 615 combat hours and has come under communist fire frequently in picking up battlefield wounded.
Bowler doubles as a life saver through a devise he perfected for blood transfusions while in flight. A bottle of plasma is set up in the helicopter cockpit. A patient can begin receiving as transfusion as soon as he is pickled up.
Lt. Col William Yuckman of Santa, Barbara, Calif. Said Bowler had given as many as three transfusions on a single flight.
An article from the Army Times:
March 22, 2004
Duty, Honor, Country
2nd Helicopter Detachment flew hundreds to safety
By Robert F. Dorr
Special to the Times
During the Korean War, the Army�s 2nd Helicopter Detachment rescued hundreds of wounded soldiers with its H-13 helicopters.
�We were the first Army helicopter unit to go into action in Korea,� said retired Lt. Col. Joseph Hely, 78, of Ballwin, Mo., who was a captain at the time.
About three months after the war began, the Army created four helicopter detachments Oct. 1, 1950. Hely�s detachment, after spending its first weeks at Fort Bragg, N. C., was first to operate helicopters in Korea, beginning near Seoul on Jan. 10, 1951.
Capt. Albert C. Sebourn commanded the detachment. The other pilots were Hely, 1st Lt. Willis G. Strawn and 1st Lt. Joseph L. Bowler. The detachment initially was assigned to support the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, which Hely remembers as being �out on a riverbed far away from any habitation.�
The H-13 helicopter later became familiar to Americans in the movie and television series �MASH.� Typically, the aircraft flew with just a pilot and one or two stretcher patients. The H-13 had limited range and lifting power and was not supposed to be exposed to enemy action. Still, 2nd Detachment pilots flew into harm�s way on an almost daily basis.
According to the book �United States Army Air Ambulance,� by Mark M. Hough, the 2nd Detachment flew a series of critical missions under heavy fire from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15. The helicopters evacuated 23 wounded soldiers under severe enemy fire, Hough wrote.
In an interview, Hely said, �We were not supposed to get into the enemy�s gun sights, but it sometimes happened.�
On April 19, 1951, Hely was wounded when Chinese machine-gun rounds penetrated the �bubble� (windshield) and underside of his H-13D, shattered his radio, sending metal fragments into his arm and causing the helicopter to crash.
There were 62 bullet holes in the bubble, said Hely, who was awarded the Purple Heart. Hely believes he is the first American helicopter pilot to be shot down in combat.
Records of the Bell Helicopter Co., which manufactured early H-13s in Niagara Falls, N.Y., credit Bowler for evacuating 824 wounded soldiers (more than half of the detachment�s 1,506) between Jan. 10 and Nov. 2, 1951.
The following year, Bell gave Bowler its first �Mr. Helicopter� award, an honor it bestowed to a pilot annually until 1960. Bowler had been a World War II Army glider pilot and, at age 40, was the �old man� of the detachment, Hely said.
The 2nd Detachment was redesignated the 8191st Army Unit on May 14, 1951, and was inactivated in late November 1952.
The detachment had operated with several MASH units by then. Its members devised new methods to carry wounded in litters and to give blood plasma transfusions in flight.
�We feel we achieved a lot,� said Hely, who counts himself as the sole survivor among the four original pilots.
Hely often speaks to veterans groups today about his remembrances of early Army helicopter operations.
Robert F. Dorr, an Air Force veteran, lives in Oakton, Va. He is the author of numerous books, including �Air Force One.� His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.