Hurlburt Field in Okaloosa County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
World War II Air Commando / Chindit Memorial
At the Quebec conference in August 1943, President Roosevelt agreed to Prime Minister Churchill's request for U.S. air support of the British "Chindits" commanded by General Orde Wingate.
General H.H. Arnold seized on the opportunity to use the flexibility of air power to fully support ground combat operations. Recruiting of a 528 man all-volunteer force began in September 1943, and by December 1943, men and equipment were in place in India and early operations began.
On March 5, 1944, "Operation Thursday" was launched. British "Chindits" were glider-borne at night to a field 150 miles behind Japanese lines in Burma. A dirt airstrip was carved
L-1 and L-5 light planes, gliders and a YR-4 helicopter evacuated the sick and wounded. C-47's and UC-64's made re-supply flights. P-51's and B-25's furnished air cover, close air support and interdiction of targets.
After May 1944, the redesignated groups' efforts were then directed to the support of the British 14th Army in its victorious drive to Rangoon. Additional personnel were assigned to the group. P-47's replaced the P-51's and operations continued with the same esprit de corps.
The far sighted strategy of General Arnold, the imaginative leadership of Colonels Philip Cochran and John Alison together with the bravery of the 1st Air Commandos played a significant role in the defeat of the Japanese in Burma.
Today Special Operations Air Commandos continue this tradition of dedicated service in missions
The name Air Commando was chosen by Gen. H. H. Arnold as a tribute to Admiral Louis Mountbatten who formed and trained the first British Commandos. Mountbatten was Supreme Allied Commander for Southeast Asia.
Air Commando Motto
During night training a glider crashed killing British Chindits. There was great concern this would lower morale of the Wingate Troops assigned to the glider operations. A written message was received from the British commander advising:
"Please be assured that we will go with your boys, any place, any time, any where."
This phrase was adopted as a motto for the 1st Air Commando Group. It is still used in an abbreviated form by Special Operations Command of the U.S. Air Force.
The Chindits were highly trained jungle fighters
2LT John Akston ∙ 2LT Edward W. Aumann ∙ F/O Hadley D.Baldwin ∙ S/SGT Wm. C. Barber ∙ T/SGT Billy F. Boen ∙ 2LT Frank H. Borowski ∙ S/SGT James Brown ∙ 1LT Frank S. Byrne ∙ CAPT K.Casey ∙ SGT Herbert D. Curriden ∙ 2LT Wm. E.Davison ∙ 1LT Robert L.Davis ∙ 1LT Murrell J. Dillard ∙ 1LT Robert L.Dowe ∙ SGT Ralph W. Dubay ∙ F/O Robert E.Everett ∙ PFC Emil J. Eastwood ∙ 1LT Glen R.Feichert ∙ S/SGT Wm. H. Felhoelter ∙ 2LT John M.Ferron ∙ CPL John L. Fey ∙ T/SGT Charles E. Fischer ∙ COL Clinton B. Gaty ∙ CAPT Wm. R. Gilhousen ∙ CPL Jack W. Gulledge ∙ 2LT Albert E.Hainey ∙ 2LT Billy H. Hastings ∙ 1LT Carl Hartzer ∙ SGT Frederick W. Helbig ∙ 2LT Charles R. Hughes ∙ S/SGT James W. Hickey ∙ 1LT Brian H. Hodges ∙ 1LT L. D. Hollibaugh ∙ 2LT Keith R. Hughes ∙ 2LT James C. Hutchinson ∙ 2LT Bruce V. Johnson ∙ S/SGT Joseph Kaplan ∙ 2LT Robert L. Karnes ∙ M/SGT Peter D. Kelly ∙ CAPT John A. Kelting ∙ PFC Robert D. Kinney ∙ S/SGT Joe B. Klaus ∙ 1LT Donald A. Lefevre ∙ F/O John M. Lesher ∙ 1LT Charles B. Liston ∙ F/O Edmond T. Lopez ∙ 2LT Brents A. Lowery ∙ F/O Wm. E. Mantel ∙ S/SGT Vernon A. McInich ∙ F/O Martin J. McTigue ∙ CPL Donald L. Merrill ∙ 2LT Teddy L. Moyers ∙ CPL John Mullen ∙ S/SGT Wm. H. Neff ∙ 1LT Fay L. Nielsen ∙ SGT Estil L. Nienaber ∙ 1LT Martin L. O'Berry ∙ PFC Lee J. Packer ∙ 1LT Henry A. Palmer ∙ F/O Bishop Parrott ∙ F/O H. S. Pettit ∙ S/SGT Stanley W. Piontek ∙ 1LT Burt C. Powell ∙ T/SGT Wm. H. Postlewait ∙ S/SGT Thomas E. Purcell ∙ 2LT Merle E. Reed ∙ 1LT Ernest N. Reichardt ∙ F/O Wm. C. Ritzinger ∙ S/SGT Arthur W. Ruck ∙ SGT Frank Sadoski ∙ CAPT Erle H. Schneider ∙ 2LT Ralph A.Selkirk ∙ 1LT Robert D. Sharrock ∙ F/O Leroy C. Shimulunas ∙ SGT Elton Silver ∙ PFC Louis Simon ∙ 2LT Clyde S. Slick ∙ CPL Emmit R. Sommers ∙ SGT Joseph G. Speroni ∙ CPT Walter C. Stelter ∙ 1LT Elmer J. Stone ∙ T/SGT Walter R. Sweeney ∙ 1LT Robert D. Thomas ∙ S/SGT Ngon T. Tom ∙ 1LT Edward G. Van Hofe ∙ 2LT Leonard D. Waters ∙ 2LT Kenneth L. Wells ∙ CPL George C. Wheelock ∙ PFC Wm. J. Winn ∙ 1LT Stephen A. Wanderer ∙ CPT Julius F. Yackie
Topics. This memorial is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • War, World II. A significant historical date for this entry is March 5, 1944.
Location. 30° 24.88′ N, 86° 42.039′ W. Marker is in Hurlburt Field, Florida, in Okaloosa County. Memorial can be reached from the intersection of Independence Road and Cody Avenue. Located at the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park, just inside the main gate. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 315 Independence Road, Hurlburt Field FL 32544, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Medal of Honor Recipients (within shouting distance of this marker); Special Tactics Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Operation Just Cause (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Medal of Honor Recipients (within shouting distance of this marker); C-47 Sky Train (within shouting distance of this marker); Spooky (within shouting distance of this marker); Airman First Class John Lee Levitow (within shouting distance of this marker); C-46 Commando (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hurlburt Field.
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia article on the Chindits. (Submitted on November 3, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. 1st Air Commando Group Beginings. (Submitted on November 3, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
3. Chindits - Special Force Burma 1942-44. (Submitted on November 3, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 12, 2018. It was originally submitted on November 3, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 489 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 3, 2016, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.