******* Just for information the Belcher Bits product [BK-02] Sikorsky
S51 contains decals for the HO3S-1 (BuAer 123129 / UP-3) as seen in the
film 'The Bridges at Toko-ri'. In addition there is a pilot figure
representing Mike Forney as played by Mickey Rooney complete with top
hat and scarf.
Cheers - Jim.
There's some amazing stuff in it. When the CAG flies a photo mission,
his ship has the PP codes on the tail; later, his own ship leading the
mission has the 00 code. Unlike a certain movie that B-25J's bombing
Tokyo in tight formation.
Behind The Bridges at Toko-ri - true facts behind fictional book by
James A. Michener
Naval Aviation News, March-April, 2002 by Richard F. Kaufman
James A. Michener wrote the novel The Bridges at Toko-ri from his
experiences as a war correspondent-with the Seventh Fleet in Korea,
dispatching stories on life aboard the carriers Essex (CV 9) and
Valley Forge (CV 45). The novel tells the story of a civilian attorney
recalled to active duty as a reserve Naval Aviator who is shot down
over hostile North Korea. The enlisted helicopter pilot and crewman
who try to rescue him are also shot down, and all three end up in a
ditch fighting for their lives. Following Michener's death in 1997,
the Library of Congress released the notes and journals that he
compiled during the war, revealing many of the real characters and
events behind the scenes of the popular story.
Soon after his arrival aboard Valley Forge in January 1952, Michener
witnessed what was to become the central theme for his book. Early on
8 February, Rear Admiral John Perry, Commander Carrier Division 1, and
his staff were alerted to engage in a possible rescue attempt of an
escaped prisoner of war (POW) pilot, Lieutenant (jg) Harry Ettinger of
Composite Squadron (VC) 35, who had been shot down in December 1951.
Friendly guerilla forces removed the ailing Ettinger from a POW camp
and took him to the Wonsan area, where they contacted U.S.
intelligence units for a possible rescue.
It was a routine job for Chief (AP) Duane Thorin and Petty Officer
Ernest Crawford, who manned the duty HO3S-1 helicopter aboard
Rochester (CA 124) that morning. A member of the intelligence group
replaced Crawford, and the HO3S-1 was loaded with supplies for
delivery to agents on the ground. As Ettinger climbed aboard at the
rendezvous point, the helicopter crashed. Meanwhile, the rescue combat
air patrol (RESCAP) aircraft overhead were under heavy fire. Lt. John
P. McKenna of VC-3 was fatally shot down in an F4U-5N Corsair, and
four AD Skyraiders were forced to land due to battle damage. An HO3S-1
from Greer County (LST 799) was launched to try to reach Thorin,
Ettinger and the crewman but was riddled with bullets. After two
attempts the stricken helicopter departed the scene, safely landing
aboard St. Paul (CA 73).
An hour later, four AD-3s from Fighter Squadron (VF) 194 and two F4Us
from VF-653 led by Lieutenant Commander Robert Schreiber, CO of
VF-194, were scheduled to hit three railroad bridges on the Kowon-
Yangdok-Samdong-ni rail line. Aerial reconnaissance photographs from
F9F Panther photo planes showed that the targeted stone bridges lay in
a deep valley with heavily defended guns atop surrounding hills, which
required a hit-and-run attack.
A single coordinated dive-bombing attack was planned in which each AD
would drop two or three 1,000-pound delay-fused bombs, and the F4Us
would drop 250-pound bombs on the bridges. Only two of the three
bridges were destroyed, so Schreiber called for a second attack,
during which VF-194 pilot Ensign Marvin S. Broomhead's AD was hit in
the engine. Too low to bail out, he landed the Skyraider wheels up on
a small, snow-covered clearing atop a mountain. Moments before
touching down a small arms bullet grazed his temple, causing him to
crash-land, breaking both ankles and a vertebra. Pulling himself out
of the cockpit, he crawled clear of the wreckage to watch his circling
comrades who were anxiously calling for the rescue helicopters from
Rochester and Greer County, which were not available.
The cruiser Manchester (CL 83), however, had an HO3S-1 that was used
for shore gun spotting, but it was more than 100 miles away. Despite
the distance, pilots Lt. Edward Moore and Marine Corps 1st Lt. Kenneth
Henry answered the call and headed inland, finding Broomhead
surrounded by enemy troops on the mountain top. Suddenly their
helicopter sputtered from enemy ground fire and rolled over next to
the AD wreckage, injuring Henry in the process. Broomhead's squadron
mates frantically called for a fourth helicopter. A rescue attempt by
an Air Force helo was driven off by heavy ground fire and 60-knot
Broomhead could not get up with both ankles broken, Henry was down
with a sprained knee, and Lt. Moore was not about to leave them. With
dusk approaching and the RESCAP planes running out of gas and
ammunition, hope for a rescue was lost. All three were now alone in
the darkness facing Chinese Communist troops coming up the hill.
By the following morning, the only visible trace of the three airmen
was a large circle of what appeared to be blood in the snow near the
wreckage. Actually, it was mostly dye marker from life vests that had
spread through the snow, creating a huge red circle around the
aircraft that gave the appearance of a massacre.
James Michener news-dispatched the death scene of the three airmen
from his post aboard Valley Forge, believing that Chinese soldiers had
killed them during the night (in reality, all three survived their
ordeal and were repatriated as POWs after the war). His United Press
article "An Epic in Failure" and International News Service story
titled "Heroes Fail to Save Pal" hit the national news a week after
the incident. A more detailed dialog of the episode titled "All for
One" appeared in Readers Digest in July 1952, and became the
inspiration for a magazine novel called "The Bridges at Toko-ri,"
which appeared in Life magazine on 6 July 1953. Its popularity
blossomed into the best-selling 1954 book and movie.
Loosely based on the story of the VF-51 naval aviators. Writer James
Michener wrote the story after spending time aboard the USS Essex. One
of the pilots aboard the Essex at the time was Neil Armstrong. It is
not known for certain whether any of the characters in the book or
movie were based on Armstrong.
The shipboard scenes were filmed on the U.S.S. Oriskany, whose number
CV-34 is visible when Lt. Brubaker walks out to the bow to gather his
thoughts before the mission. However, during shooting, the Oriskany
needed repairs, and the shooting was completed on her sister ship
U.S.S. Kearsarge, CV-33. For continuity the 33 was painted out and and
replaced with a 34. The aircraft that Brubaker and his squadron fly is
the Grumman F9F-2 Panther.
William Holden agreed to do the film on the sole condition that the
producers keep the original ending of the novel. Holden's younger
brother, Robert Beedle, was a Navy fighter pilot who was killed in
action in World War II. After this film was released, he was
remembered by his squadron-mates as having been very much like the
character of Lt Harry Brubaker. For realistic close-up shots, Holden
learned how to taxi a fighter on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
Shame they were Banshees in the book. I did get to see a Panther in
action at an air show about 20 years ago. After the modern stuff the
noise wasn't anything but the sight was fabulous.
Bill Banaszak, MFE Sr.
it's easy to forget the polarization that existed then. i remember
knuckleheads who would flip out if you expressed any doubt about the west and
showed any appreciation of the east. don't forget the fall-out from the
mcarthy era, too. both sides did a lot of chest thumping and showed a lot of
sometimes when i remember the 50's-early 60's, it seems like a different
universe women friends express a lot of bitterness for that time also. which
i can't blame them for..
And the Japanese were barely human at best. :-)
Remember the scene in that movie where the put the captured B-25
crewmember on the stretcher with "Donated By The United States For
Earthquake Relief" printed on it?
Here, Mr. Moto seeks revenge on the U.S. for the Dolittle raid:
Okay, sneaking the Akagi around South America with the Nells aboard is
going to be tricky, but who knows what the wily Jap has up his sleeve?
Hey Bruiser, what do think of that Moto Guy?:
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