History OF THE

607th AIRCRAFT CONTROL & WARNING

SQUADRON

KOREA 1950 - 1953




 In 1945 the 502nd Tactical Control Group (TCG) was formed with an authorized strength of 171 officers, 1,993 airmen, and 6 warrant officers with the mission of testing, and perfecting the radar equipment that would lead to a more efficient means of early warning, spotting and tracking of both friendly and hostile aircraft.

In early 1947 the 502nd along with the 606th & 607th AC&W squadrons moved it's headquarters to Greenville, S. C. The two squadrons were then moved to Myrtle Beach, S. C.  In May of 1947 the 607th was equipped with an AN/CPS4 height finder and an AN/CPS-5 search radar. The squadron had ten officers and seventy airmen. It's mission was aircraft control and warning, interception, and blind bombing.

On August 1947 the 607th AC&W squadron was moved to Turner AFB, Ga. where it remained until the outbreak of the Korean War.

In July, 1950 under the command of Major W. H. Wilking the 607th was ordered to pack all equipment and prepare to ship out to Korea. The 607th was to deploy with  four lightweight (AN/TPS1B) search radar sets, one MPQ-12 radar set along with radio jeeps for use by the Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP). Each lightweight radar set deployed with one officer and nineteen airmen. On 28 August, 1950 the 607 left Turner AFB and boarded the USS General Howze for Korea. Upon arrival at Pusan, South Korea on 24 September they were assigned to the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing.

The following quote from the 607th history illustrates some of the problems encountered in the transition from peace to war.
"Unit movement was the most serious handicap. The squadron, a mobile organization, had participated on twenty maneuvers in the past year, both in and out of the USA. Each time the equipment was combat loaded and after arrival at the deployment site had always operated with a minimum of maintenance difficulty. Permission to combat load for water shipment to Korea was denied by higher headquarters and the squadron personal hand packed some 5,000 boxes of equipment. These procedures resulted in serious damage to the delicate communications and radar equipment."

On 3 October, 1950 the 607th received orders to move to Taegu by rail and then to proceed to Seoul by truck, but after the equipment was packed orders were changed and they were forced to move by truck which caused even more damage to the delicate equipment and much confusion to the personnel. The first convoy commander, a communications officer, never made it out of Pusan due to a broken arm he suffered when he fell into a ditch and was rotated to Japan. The second commander made it as far as Taegu where he broke his leg by falling into a hole in the railroad yard and was also sent to Japan. The move from Pusan took three trips and proved to be very costly when the convoy was ambushed by the North Koreans and two airmen were killed and several pieces of the equipment were bullet ridden and severely damaged.

The 607th was set up at Kempo Airfield and the radar was operational on 14 October, but was continually plagued by the problems caused by the long sea voyage and the rough treatment of the truck trip from Pusan. From 1 November until 16 December 1,370 navigational steers and 11 saves of U. S. aircraft were confirmed.

As soon at the TADC was operational at Kempo, the lightweight radar unit of the 607th became Detachment #1 and was ordered north. By the end of October it was located at Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

The detachment didn't stay long at this location, but in early November it was ordered further north to Anju. The men of the 607th Detachment 1 were getting their first taste of just what Forward Edge of the Battle Area (FEBA) meant to them as a Forward Air Control Post Team (FACPT). The equipment consisted of a TPS-1B search radar. It was during this move to Anju that the unthinkable happened. The detachment commander had been assured that the site he had picked out was in friendly hands, however, he was unable to contact the local Army intelligence, so he had to rely on the advice of the TACC in Seoul. The move to Anju was made in less that fourteen hours and they arrived at the site after dark. The vehicles were arranged in a circle with their headlights on and aiming into the center of the circle to enable the men to erect the radar and communications equipment. By early morning Detachment 1 was operational. Later in the morning the commander was awakened by one of the airmen after only two hours of sleep. As he walked out of his tent he observed a large U. S. Eight Army unit coming up the plateau from the south. Only after making sure that the whirling radar was indeed American did the amazed army commander inform Major Wilkins that the North Koreans had driven them off the plateau the day before and then luckily for the 607th they had retreated during the night.

The detachment remained at Anju for less than a month and represented the most northerly penetration of a 607th unit during the war. While there they assisted the 606th in controlling U. S. B-26 bomb drops and in providing enemy aircraft warning up to the Yalu River.

Field conditions in the Korean winter taxed both men and equipment to the utmost. On the night of 28 November, 1950 the temperature dropped to -29 degrees. The men had no arctic weather gear issued to them, instead they wore extra uniforms topped off by a field jacket.

On 29 November, 1950 the Communist Chinese launched their attack overpowering the U. N. forces who were compelled to withdraw. The men of Detachment 1 loaded their trucks and quickly began the bone jarring dash south to Kempo to join with the rest of the 607th.

On 16 December the 607th dismantled all of the equipment and were airlifted to Taegu. By the end of 1950 all the radar units of the 502 TCG were south of the 38th parallel.

In late December 1950 a new unit designated as the 607th Detachment #2 was set up at Pohang equipped with a TPS-1B, but without a height finder.

January 1951 saw the tide change again as the U. N. took the offensive and Detachment 1 again moved north to Pyongtack.

In March of 1951 the 607th TADC and equipment moved to Yoju airstrip. This time a CPS-5 search and a CPS-4 height finder was added to it's inventory..

The summer of 1951 brought a time of busy activity as the 607th began controlling the activities of B-26 and B-29 bombers in darkness and bad weather. In June a flight of F-51 fighters controlled by the TADC intercepted two enemy aircraft 65 miles north of the site at an altitude of 1,055 feet. All of the aircraft painted excellent pictures on the scopes and a successful intercept was made. There were daily occurrences of the 607th being credited with saving aircraft and their crew members by directing them to the nearest airfield for landing. Many helicopter rescue pickups for pilots downed behind enemy lines were conducted successfully by the 607th.

In July of 1951 the 607th became responsible for controlling all night fighters and antiaircraft batteries within it's sector.

In September of 1951 Detachment #4 consisting of three officers and twenty one airmen was added to the 607th roster. The detachment used the new MSQ-1 bombing radar. A site located near Yangu was selected. With the new equipment the Air Force was now able to do the close bomb support the Army so desperately needed.

In the fall of 1951 the squadron gained the much needed support of the Air Police for security.

When the peace talks were started on October of 1951 the 607th was given the responsibility of keeping the air clear of aircraft around the area where the talks were taking place.

In November 1951 Major John Kersch took over as commander of the 607th. Also in November the use of Mark III IFF was replaced by the new Mark X IFF and tested along with the F-94 night interceptors.

In March of 1952 the 607th made their final move of the war when they moved the radar equipment to Mount Kuksa Bong with the mission of early warning and controlling of fighters and bombers in their missions.

On 1 July 1952 Major Robert O"Benour took over as commanding officer of the 607th.

On 27 August 1952 the controllers of the 607th received a MAYDAY call from a pilot going down in mid country. The site was inoperative because of the antenna drive motor. but they still had radar capability, so two airmen were assigned to hand rotate the antenna and the rescue aircraft were directed to the downed pilot and a successful rescue was made.

In November 1952 a new TPS-1D search radar was added to the inventory of the 607th. The set was installed on the mountain and was to be used as a backup to the aging CPS-5 radar which had now been modified for Moving Target Indicator (MTI). In December the set was mounted in the back of a 6X6 truck and was to be used as a mobile radar for gap filling and in aiding in destroying the always annoying "Bed check Charlies" a mission that later proved very successful.

Equipment outages became more and more frequent during December 1952 and January, 1953. The continual ice storms, winds and cold weather on the mountain (-35 degrees at night, winds up to 50 knots, and a humidity of 80 to 90%) all combined to cause the antenna to ice up several times each night and stop rotation. Each time the radar maintenance men would tie ropes around the ends of the antenna and with two men at the ends of each rope would hand rotate the antenna while others would climb up the back of the antenna and with hammers remove the ice thus enabling the controllers to continue their missions. Finally the ice became so badly deposited inside the wave guide it caused damage to the magnetron. This required dismantling the wave guide, drying it out and replacing it. Meanwhile, the TPS-1D was used along with the Mark X IFF (attached to the AN/CPS5 antenna) to control the aircraft.

From January to July 1953 some of the heaviest ground and air action of the war occurred as each side was struggling for additional land. During this time the 607th was called upon to control aircraft going to and from North Korea. Several times each day a MAYDAY would appear on the scopes and the controllers were called upon to guide a pilot back to safety. On one such occasion, the pilot had lost oxygen and was semi conscience, but still able to follow voice directions. He was first led down to a lower altitude, then safely back to the nearest air field where the local tower personal were able to land the aircraft.

The following article is copied from the Stars & Stripes

STARS AND STRIPES

"Unconscious" pilot bombs; Controller guides; saves blacked-out flier with Fifth Air Force, 26 April 1953.

"First Lt. Richard L. Spaulding fell into a twilight sleep while flying his F-86 over North Korea recently and woke up an hour later to find the aircraft nearly shaken apart although it had landed safely.

"It was as though I was in a dream," said Spaulding. His oxygen equipment was discovered to be faulty. When Air Force ground controller, Captain Clarence H. Bell saw the plane out of control on his radar screen  he first guided him to a lower altitude where the oxygen level was sufficient, then he guided the blacked-out pilot to a target area where the bombs were safely dropped and then he preceded to talk Lt. Spaulding back south just over and around the mountainous terrain to a landing field. Spaulding does not remember releasing the bombs. The ground controller, who is credited with saving both the pilot and his aircraft, said, "I had him just north of our nearest air base in a position that would have made a perfect landing when Spaulding suddenly asked me if he had released his bombs. "I almost jumped off the mountain, I could just see that air base after a couple of 1,000 pounders exploded in the center of the runway."

Lt. Spaulding later said he could remember only that the airplane was shaking.

"Spaulding refused to land at the first field and Captain Bell then led him to another field and guided him down to a perfect landing."

In May of 1953 the TPS-1D was moved down from the mountain into the field in an attempt to stop the "Bed Check Charlies" from their harassment. The officer in charge took a small group of airmen with their personal equipment and the TPS-1D to a location near the fighting and chose a site along a dry creek bed where they pitched their tents. All went well until the monsoon rains began and the "dry" creek bed became full of rushing water that succeeded in carrying tents and equipment away. Once again the Marines came to the rescue with lodging, food, clothing and some well deserving ribbing.

27 July brought to an end of "Truman's Police Action"; "The Forgotten War"; "The war that was fought in the wrong place at the wrong time" The was was not officially over, but rather a cease fire agreement was signed. In the history books of wars it has become the longest war of all time and the sound of gunfire can still be heard.

The U. S. alone had lost over 36,000 KIA; 129,000 WIA; and 5,800 MIA all in only three short years of conflict.

During the war years the 607th suffered four men killed, two by enemy action and two in a jeep accident that occurred on Mount Kuska Bong. There was one other accident on MOunt Kuksa Bong that occurred on 8 April, 1953 when a 6X loaded with men went down a slight incline near the bottom of the mountain due to equipment failure. Of the approximately twenty men on the truck no one was killed, but four or five were injured. Only one that I know of (me) got to rotate back to the States.

In early 1954 the old trusty and rusty CPS-5 radar was replaced by the MPA-7 and later the CPS-4 by the MPS-14.

After the cease fire agreement was signed the 607th stayed on to help establish a permanent air defense network in Korea.

In September 1956 an AN/TPS-5 radar trainer arrived and the mission was changed from combat to training South Korean Air Force controllers.

On October 1957 the 607th AC&W Squadron was deactivated, leaving a proud heritage signified by it's nine battle campaign streamers, two USA Presidential Unit Citations and two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations.

The 607th was again reactivated in 1979 at Tyndall AFB, Fl. and was known as the 607th Tactical Control Training Squadron with the mission of training controllers.

The 607th is now located at Luke AFB, Arizona and is the 607th Air Control Squadron.

COMMANDING OFFICERS


Maj. W. H. Wilkin-------1947 through November 1951
Maj. John Kersch--------November 1951 through July 1952
Maj. Robert O'Benour---July 1952 through October 1952
Lt. Col Lenton Roller----October 1952 to the end of the war

AWARDS


Campaign Streamers

UN Offensive                                     CCF Intervention
First UN Counter Offensive                CCF Spring Offensive
UN Summer-Fall Offensive                 Second Korean Winter
Korea Summer-Fall Offensive 1952    Third Korean Winter
Korean Summer-Fall 1953