To Save a Fleet Angel


“North Korea threatens nuclear strike amid US-South Korea drill
CNN-Aug 22, 2016”

It can be easy for us to forget about some of the more obscure passages in our history. Whether it was never taught to us in the first place, or were simply not paying attention that day in school, certain parts of US History seem to get lost in the shuffle. It’s mysterious. It can be hard for those of us that weren’t there to imagine a world without smartphones and an integrated world economy. Sometimes, it is just easier to accept circumstances as they always were, always are, perhaps always will be. For example, as apparent now as it has ever been, this world will always be a little dangerous. We live in an era of large-scale terror organizations, and rogue states.

North Korea has been making headlines for 60 years now, and they were not always merely a rogue state of little concequence. North Korea was once an important part of the communist bloc. Back during the Cold War, when ideological conflict had split the world into two, North Korea was a strong ally of the People’s Republic China and the USSR. North Korea used those Cold War era allegiences to spearhead of a massive communist invasion into South Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.

Retrievers and Saviors 

It was during the Korean War that the forces of the free world faced off against the forces of a combined communist military assault. Among the unites fighting for the UN/US forces were HU-1 Navy Helicopter Utility Squadron One, and HU-2 Navy Helicopter Utility Squadron Two; the Fleet Angels. Formed in 1948, these units represented the only operating U.S. Navy helicopter squadron in Korea. Detached on Korean Islands, British carriers, LSTs, icebreakers, and even American Battleships, they supported the backbone of the UN’s efforts in Korea.

During the course of the war, HU-1 and HU-2 were called upon to provide transportation, reconnaissance, mapping, forward observation for naval guns, scouting, evacuation of the wounded, support for diplomatic missions, and more. Perhaps the most outstanding and most important missions that these squadrons were tasked with were those that rescued downed airman and trapped infantryman. HU-1 helicopters alone had rescued hundreds of military personnel. Battleship IOWA, had a dramatic mission in which a HUP helicopter was responsible for a rescuing service personnel from behind enemy lines. They had truly been the Fleet's Angels.

Today, the Cold War is over and the former battlefields of South Korea produce your Samsung phones. The world isn’t safe. Still it is certainly safer from a unified Korea under the control of the north. But sadly, much of the history of the Korean War remains forgotten. Even the once proud HUP helicopters that the Navy Helicopter Utility Squadrons had piloted so valliantly are swept aside by the onset of time. Few examples remain.

It came from a Piasecki factory. It served with NATO forces. But it needs to be repaired. It needs new glasses, it needs refurbishment, it needs paint, it needs transportation, all of this will be required if the story of the Korean War and the lessons of its history are to be remembered.

Currently there are plans to bring this HUP onto the Battleship IOWA, to exhibit the only Korean War-era helicopter on a Battleship that served in that war, in existence. It cannot be done alone. It needs you. It’s up to the reader to ensure that history, does not become merely a forgotten matter, lost to some old text book.

Help bring it back to life.

We have a limited window of opportunity to get this helicopter! This campaign is expected to end 11/30/2016

-Johnny Wu

-With edits and additional details by Joshua Stutz
-With input and research from Dave Way, Curator at the Pacific Battleship Center

P.S. - Learn more about modern helicopters here.

October 7th 2016 Update