Squadron Scrapbook
Ops Summaries and Prop Wash

Page Thirty Eight

The photos on this page are from the collections of Dick Prather, who flew as a radio operator from Jul 1958 to Oct 1960, and Karl Rieth, a pilot with the squadron from Sep 1957 to Apr 1960. The photos were taken by Dick and Karl during their respective but separate missions into Beirut, Lebanon to support the U.S. Marines who went ashore there in July 1958.

In response to a request for assistance from the president of Lebanon, President Eisenhower ordered U.S. forces into Lebanon on 15 July 1958. U.S. Marines went ashore and set up a perimeter around the Beirut airport before moving on to secure the port and other vital facilities in downtown Beirut. Much has written about the invasion force being opposed by hordes of bikini clad women, and venders bearing welcome signs. As one Marine said, "It's better than Korea, but what the hell is it?" This quote comes from the official U.S. Marine historical summary of the operation which can be read at the following web site:

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmchist/lebanon.txt Eventually, several thousand U.S. Marines and Army troops arrived. Thousands of sailors manned ships, including two carriers just off shore. The logistics requirements were significant.

VR-24, along with other U.S. Navy and Air Force units provided airlift support for the operation, which continued until 23 October 1958. U.S. military personnel, including VR-24 flight crews directly involved in the Beirut, Lebanon intervention were later awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for their participation.


Anyone who has photos, stories,and/or material they wish to share is encouraged to send them to
Dick Prather, editor of the VR-24 website.

(prather)

A view of the international airport at Beirut. Aircraft landing at the airport, or parked at the terminal, visible near the apex of the two runways, were subject to occasional small arms fire from rebel positions east of the field (to the left in the photo).

(prather)

On short final for landing at Beirut. It was reported that rebel elements hiding in the village in the background occasionally fired on the field. When that occurred, U.S. Marine tanks dug in along the airport perimeter returned fire with their cannons.

(prather)

The Beriut terminal'Welcome' sign, posted in both Arabic and in English, seemed to ignore sporadic gunfire from neighboring hills east of the field.

(prather)

Although the U.S. Marines and Army soldiers met no opposition when they landed on the beach nearby, it was evident that airport authorities had beefed up security because of the ongoing tensions. The ramp guard shown in this photo carried the latest 7.62 mm NATO rifle. A sandbagged position is visible on the ramp in the upper right corner of the photo.

(rieth)

The gray U.S. Navy truck parked next to the terminal was the primary means of unloading and loading cargo and mail from and into VR-24 aircaft at Beirut. USAF aircraft also supporting the operation used more modern methods.

(rieth)

Karl Rieth, and other members of his crew, standing in the shade of the aircraft, appear to be waiting for their outound load, which sometimes ranged from electronic gear to jet engines. The inbound load on one of Dick Prather's flights included a shaped piece of steel that measured approx 5'x5'x 1/2". It weighed in excess of a 1000 lbs.

(prather)

The U.S.Air Force mustered its heavy lift aircraft, such as this Douglas C124, to support the Beirut operation. The C124 had a loading ramp that entered through the nose of the aircraf, and an automated, cable-opeated cargo elevator that entered the belly of the aircraft aft of the wings.

(prather)

The star of the show, as far as efficiency and speed, however, was the Lockheed C130 Hercules, shown here on the ramp at Beirut. C130s that landed in Beirut unloaded pallets of cargo from the aircraft by rolling them down the aircraft's rear ramps.

(rieth)

To support the Beirut operation, VR-24 began staging R5D aircraft and flight crews out of Naples in larger numbers than was previously the case. Most flights, as did R5D 56518 shown here, stopped for fuel in Soudha Bay to avoid having to fuel at Beirut..

(rieth)

Squadron aircraft also made stops enroute to or coming from Beirut at other fields in the eastern Med including the RAF field at Nicosia, Cypres, Rhodes, and as this photo of R5D 56549 shows, in Aroxos, Greece .

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